Yesterday, the Senate voted to invoke cloture on a $15 billion jobs bill by a vote of 62–30, with Republican Sens. Scott Brown (MA), Olympia Snowe (ME), Susan Collins (ME), George Voinovich (OH) and Kit Bond (MO) voting to advance the measure, along with all but one Democrat (Nebraska’s Ben Nelson). Debate on the bill is taking place today and Reid is hoping for final passage tomorrow.
During today’s discussion, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) took to the floor to decry what he sees as a lack of open debate on the part of the Senate — because a jobs plan that he has isn’t being considered — and to take a shot at Democrats for “the partisan, procedural position we’re in”:
Why shouldn’t this [proposal] be actively considered, and debated, and voted on on the floor of the Senate? We’re supposed to be considering a jobs bill. That’s progress. At least, finally, we’re focusing on jobs…I came to the Senate hearing that this was the body of full, open debate, full, open consideration of amendments. Problem is, my experience here in five years has been anything but that, including, yet again, this week, on this legislation, as we’re trying to address the top issue of the American people — jobs and the economy — why can’t we have a full debate?…I find it unfortunate that that’s the partisan, procedural position we’re in.
Of course, all of these complaints would hold a lot more water if Vitter hadn’t voted just last night, along with 29 other Republicans, to prevent the Reid bill from ever coming to the floor. Now he’s calling it “progress” that the Senate is addressing jobs, while last night he was content to block a jobs bill from ever seeing the light of day.
In fact, prior to last night’s vote, Republican leadership was “hoping to persuade waffling members” to block the jobs bill entirely. And the GOP was very up front that it wasn’t objecting to the bill’s substance — as its members very openly advocated for portions of it in the past — but because they didn’t like the process in which it was crafted.
But this is just part and parcel of the unprecedented level of obstruction that Republicans have employed recently. As Ezra Klein pointed out, at the rate the Senate is going, the number of cloture votes filed by the end of the year will bring the 2007–10 total “to about what the Senate saw between 1919 and 1984.” “Say what you will about the Senate, but this is not traditional,” Klein added.
Meanwhile, the jobs plan that Vitter would like to have considered is the same as the “no-cost stimulus” plan that he offered early last year, which consisted entirely of opening more land up to oil drilling and removing regulations on oil companies. Back when it was first presented, MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer mocked the plan by saying “so your answer here is to allow damage to the environment, in order to create jobs?”