WASHINGTON – Count this as the least surprising news of the day out of the U.S. Capitol: DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s $50 billion package of transportation spending, intended to also help combat unemployment, failed in the Senate today due to a Republican filibuster.
Although the measure attracted 51 votes, all from Democrats, it failed to pass the 60 vote threshold needed to end debate. All 47 Republicans, plus independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska opposed the bill, which would have also set aside a further $10 billion to create a public-private infrastructure bank to fund future transport projects.
Republicans opposed the bill, which was touted by President Obama, in part because it was funded by a 0.7 percent surtax on incomes above $1 million. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the GOP’s leader, called the proposal, “more failed stimulus.”
In a statement released after the vote, Klobuchar remained optimistic that many of the underlying elements of the legislation would eventually pass.
“While other countries are moving full steam ahead with infrastructure investments, we’re simply treading water,” said Klobuchar. “In an increasingly competitive global economy, standing still is falling behind.”
Wading into the high-profile and highly partisan fight over the President’s jobs proposals represents a new turn in Klobuchar’s Senate career. She frequently co-sponsors legislation with Republicans and avoids the cross-party taunting that’s become a bipartisan ritual on Capitol Hill.
Obama also released a statement, which said in part:
“The American people deserve to know why their Republican representatives in Washington refuse to put some of the workers hit hardest by the economic downturn back on the job rebuilding America. They deserve an explanation as to why Republicans refuse to step up to the plate and do what’s necessary to create jobs and grow the economy right now. It’s time for Republicans in Congress to put country ahead of party and listen to the people they were elected to serve. It’s time for them to do their job and focus on Americans’ jobs. And until they do, I will continue to do everything in my power to move this country forward.”