A bipartisan jobs bill cleared a Republican procedural roadblock on Monday with critical momentum provided by the Senate's newest Republican, Scott Brown of Massachusetts.
The 62-30 tally to advance the measure to a final vote on Wednesday gives both President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats a much-needed victory — even though the measure in question is likely to have only a modest boost on hiring.
Mr. Brown and four other Republicans broke with party leaders in the Senate to advance the measure. Most other Republicans voted in favour of the filibuster — a procedural manoeuvre to block a final vote on a measure — because of strong-arm tactics by Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
The bill featured four provisions that enjoyed sweeping bipartisan support, including a measure exempting businesses hiring the unemployed from Social Security payroll taxes through December and giving them another $1,000 credit if new workers stay on the job a full year.
Though employers seldom make hiring decisions based on tax breaks, economist Mark Zandi says the measure could potentially create 250,000 new private-sector jobs. That is less than four per cent of the 8.4 million jobs lost in the recession.
“I came to Washington to be an independent voice, to put politics aside and to do everything in my power to help create jobs for Massachusetts families,” said Mr. Brown, whose election last month gave Republicans the 41st vote in the Senate that could sustain Republican filibusters.