GOP Senators To Vote Against Jobs Bill That Has Policies They Call ‘Imperative,’ ‘Effective,’ ‘Very Smart’

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) spent the last week looking to drum up some Republican votes for a $15 billion jobs bill that is scheduled to face a cloture vote today (which would begin debate). Republican leaders have been pressuring members to simply block the legislation, but on Fox News Sunday yesterday, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that the GOP “may well” support the bill.

However, two Senators have definitively said that they are going to vote against the bill. And both are doing so despite the inclusion of provisions that they have been extremely supportive of:

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said that he won’t support the bill, even though it includes the Schumer-Hatch payroll tax credit, which Hatch has called “an affordable, effective and targeted proposal to get the American people back to work.” “It’s a very, very smart thing to do,” he told CNBC.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) said that he won’t support the bill even though it includes an extension of highway funding that he has been “pushing very hard” for. In fact, Inhofe has said that “for the sake of jobs back home and across America, it is imperative that Congress move quickly to pass [an extension].” He also called an extension vital to “restoring our economy and creating good jobs for American workers.” Last week, one of Inhofe’s aides called the highway funding a “high priority” for the senator.

This resembles other GOP reversals of late, including the senators who voted against pay-as-you-go rules despite previously extolling their virtues and the senators who voted against the creation of a deficit commission after having co-sponsored the legislation.

In fact, Republicans aren’t even pretending to oppose the jobs bill on substance, but instead are complaining about the process, after Reid threw out an $85 billion “compromise” bill negotiated by Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA). One Republican aide told Congressional Quarterly that GOP opposition is due to “feelings of anger and disbelief with Reid’s move to kill the bipartisan proposal.” But as I’ve noted before, there was simply no reason for Reid to concede to Republican demands on a batch of provisions that the GOP admitted do “not create one job.”

Reid is reportedly still working to secure the votes of Sens. Scott Brown (R-MA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Susan Collins (R-ME). And all of this is for a $15 billion bill that will not make a major dent in unemployment. As AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka put it, “if this $15 billion was the only thing [that passed], that would be like having an amputated arm and sticking a Band-Aid on the end of it.”