Senate Kills Pared-Back $35 Billion Jobs Bill

President Obama first called on Congress to pass his whole jobs bill. When that failed, he started calling on lawmakers to pass it piece by piece. The measure rejected by the Senate Thursday night was aimed at helping state and local governments avoid laying off teachers and firefighters.

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ARI SHAPIRO, host: Two pieces of the president's jobs package came up for test votes last night in the Senate and both failed. NPR's Tamara Keith reports.

TAMARA KEITH: First, President Obama called on Congress to pass his whole jobs bill. When it failed to gain a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, he started calling on Congress to pass it piece by piece. And thus came the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act, a $35 billion measure funded with a half percent surtax on income over a million dollars a year. Republican leader Mitch McConnell called it just another bailout.

Senator MITCH MCCONNELL: For Democrats the solution apparently is to increase the number of people who work for the government.

KEITH: The other element of the president's jobs plan that failed last night was introduced by Republicans. It would eliminate a three percent tax withholding on government contractors. There's bipartisan agreement the withholding should go away, but the bill contained a cut in government spending that the Obama administration said was a deal killer. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin summed up the night.

Senator JOE MANCHIN: Some folks in this town are so busy trying to make the other side look bad that they don't really realize they're making us all look bad.

KEITH: Senate Democrats have promised to keep bringing up other pieces of the president's jobs bill in the coming weeks.

Tamara Keith, NPR News, the Capitol.

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