Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked, in a 53-45 vote, a bill intended to boost hiring by small business, the first of what will likely be a series of filibusters of Democratic proposals in coming weeks.
After a June punctuated by a flurry of bipartisan cooperation on items like highway and farm bills, the Senate is settling into a partisan summer with Republicans refusing to allow action on what they call campaign-driven legislation.
Democrats depicted the small business bill, which is on President Obama's "checklist" of jobs bills, as intended to win GOP support. It gave business tax credits up to $500,000 for boosting payroll and extended for a year a 100 percent rate under which businesses claim bonus depreciation tax deductions on capital investments. But Republicans called the bill insufficient as policy and overly political, and opposed cloture Thursday over the complaint that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid barred on an open amendment process.
Democrats said the vote shows the GOP is willing to block tax cuts to deny Obama a win. "Unfortunately, Republicans played their usual games of obstruction and opposition," Reid said. "There was simply no reason to oppose this bill on the merits, so Republicans manufactured reasons to kill it out of thin air."
The Senate also voted 73-24 to reject a House-passed bill giving businesses a 20 percent cut.
Next week promises more of the same. In a Monday vote, Republicans are expected to defeat an updated version of Democrats' DISCLOSE Act, a bill that attempts to impose campaign finance disclosure requirements in the wake of the Supreme Court's Citizen's United ruling. The new bill raises the minimum amount requiring disclosure to $10,000, but Republicans still oppose it. Reid is also expected next week to bring up a bill to provide tax breaks to firms that return overseas jobs to the U.S. and raise taxes on companies that offshore jobs. Republicans will also likely block that measure.
Those votes will open the door for action the following week on President Obama's proposal to extend the Bush tax cuts for people who earn less than $250,000 a year. Republicans are expected to block that proposal from receiving the needed 60 votes. In the Senate, Democrats will also likely block a GOP proposal to extend all the tax cuts.