By Libby Casey
Both of Alaska’s U-S senators voted for a 15 Billion dollar Democratic-led “jobs bill” this morning. It passed on a vote of 70 – 28. Senator Lisa Murkowski joined 12 other Republicans in supporting it.
Murkowski had voted AGAINST moving the bill forward on Monday, because she didn’t like the tactics used by Democratic leadership to advance it, and she instead wanted to see a different version on the floor. That initial effort, led by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Democratic Senator Max Baucus of Montana was scuttled this week. Their more expensive bill would have helped pension plans that have dropped because of market downturns, and included an unemployment insurance extension.
But Murkowski voted for today’s $15 -Billion bill anyway, because she says she agrees with its basic elements.
Those four component pieces I am going to vote to support. I had really hoped what we’d seen and been voting on was what Grassley and Baucus had voted on. I’ve got a lot of folks in my state that are very concerned about some of the pension issues that really liked that pension piece that was in there.
The bill that passed the Senate this morning includes tax breaks for small businesses and incentives for them to hire new employees. It also lets small businesses write off more new equipment purchases… and boosts transportation funding for states … and sets lower interest rates for local communities trying to finance infrastructure projects.
Senator Mark Begich voted both for the bill to advance on Monday, and for its passage today.
It’s exactly what some of us had advocated for, keep it simple, keep it as a jobs agenda, focus on the first phase which is small business protection, making sure we can grow our small business community, put more money into our transportation which for Alaska that means another 54 million dollars this year.
Begich says this is just one phase of a broader jobs agenda he hopes the Senate will work on this year… and that he hopes to see more follow-up on elements of the Grassley-Baucus bill including the extension of unemployment insurance.
The $15-Billion jobs package now goes to the House… it voted to pass a far more massive employment bill late last year, but is expected to move forward on this version.