Senate Democrats on Friday rolled out the next phase in their push to pass individual parts of President Obama's jobs bill: a $60 billion bill to invest in infrastructure projects around the country.
In a conference call less than 24 hours after the Senate blocked a jobs bill for teachers and first responders, Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters, "We're going to give Senate Republicans another chance to do what's right for the country."
Reid said the bill will invest $50 million dollars in immediate projects for highway, transit, rail and aviation. And it will provide funds to improve and modernize U.S. airports and the U.S. air traffic control system, he said.
$10 billion dollars will be put toward the creation of a so-called national infrastructure bank for private and public capital to be used on infrastructure projects around the U.S. The bill would be paid for again by a surtax on millionaires. This time, 0.7 percent to pay for the $60 billion bill.
Reid announced he’ll push for a vote on the measure the week of Oct. 31st when the Senate returns from its weeklong recess.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood joined Reid for the announcement today. He promised this was a jobs measure that will work.
"An infusion of $50 billion will put thousands of people to work next year. Beginning immediately, but certainly during the construction season next year building roads, bridges, continuing to build infrastructure," he said.
Also on the call was Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who said this bill was personal to her state after the Minneapolis bridge collapse in 2007.
"That summer day in Minnesota, Aug. 1, 2007, beautiful summer day and all of a sudden a bridge fell down in the middle of America, right in the middle of the Mississippi River," she recalled.
The new jobs push comes after the Senate blocked late last night a $35 billion bill for aid to teachers, police, firefighters and first responders that was paid for by a 0.5 percent surtax on income over $1 million. 47 Senate Republicans, along with Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), and Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.) stood in the way of opening debate on the measure.
Reid defended using a millionaire tax again even though he knows Republicans won't support it. He cited polls showing the majority of Americans agree with the tax.
"They better get in tune with their constituents. And we're going to keep moving forward on this," he promised.
Reid took a dig at Republicans who sign antitax activist Grover Norquist’s pledge not to raise taxes.
"The Senate GOP has had a love affair for many years now with Grover Norquist. They will not touch anything dealing with revenue, nothing. Even though they're not in touch with reality or their own constituents, but they are in touch with Grover Norquist," he said.
More rough politics to come. A spokesman for Senator McConnell said today, “Two years after spending tens of billions of dollars on ‘shovel ready’ projects in his first stimulus bill, President Obama famously admitted that those projects weren’t as shovel-ready as he thought they were. It would be the height of irresponsibility to make the same mistake twice.”