Senate Democrats renewed their efforts Tuesday to pass a portion of President Obama's jobs bill that would provide $35billion to states to retain and rehire teachers, firefighters, police and first responders.
A group of Democratic senators were joined at a press conference at the Capitol by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten to press for Senate passage of the bill that they say would save or create 400,000 jobs.
Weingarten was passionate about the dire straits facing schools that have fallen on hard times.
"The bottom is falling out on budgets all across the country," she said.
She added: "I've been all across the country since September, since August. When we say that there are 300,000 fewer educators since 2008, you see this in school districts throughout the country ... I've seen it with my own eyes throughout the country"
New York Sen. Charles Schumer (D) rejected Republican leader Mitch McConnell's assertion that this was just another attempt by Democrats to bail out states with stimulus spending.
McConnell said on the Senate floor this morning: "Bailouts don't solve the problem. in fact They perpetuate it. Yet all we get from the President and Democrats in Congress is 'Do it again - or else!'"
"the number-one thing we want to do is get the teachers back in the classroom for the kids," Schumer responded. "And I think to say helping those kids is a bailout is just totally not taking into account what those kids need. It's awful to say that."
Schumer said Democrats are open to dropping the .5% percent surtax on millionaires to pay for the bill if Republicans have a better idea. He said he believes Republicans would be opposed to the bill even if Democrats stripped out the millionaire tax.
Aides to Senate Democratic leadership say the first votes on the $35 billion dollar bill wouldn't come before the end of the week at the earliest.