Reid Torpedoes Baucus-Grassley Jobs Deal

Posted February 11, 2010 at 2:21pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday that he was scrapping a draft of a bipartisan jobs bill proposed by Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), just hours after the deal was announced.

Reid told reporters that when the Senate returns from the Presidents Day on Feb. 22, “we will move to a smaller package than has been talked about in the press,” and that package would only include a one-year extension of the highway act, a Build America Bonds provision, a small-business tax program and a small-business tax credit bill proposed by Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

The Baucus and Grassley proposal included a host of other provisions, including a package of tax extenders favored by Grassley, a short-term extension of the USA PATRIOT Act, flood insurance provisions, Small Business Administration loan provisions, and a $1.5 billion package of agriculture disaster relief provisions. Hatch has endorsed the Baucus-Grassley plan.

Reid said the tax extenders “confuse” the bill, and said other provisions called for in the Baucus-Grassley plan would be addressed in later measures. He added that Democrats have decided to make jobs the primary legislative focus for the year. “We don’t have a jobs bill. We have a jobs agenda,” Reid said.

It is unclear what Reid’s plan will mean for Republicans.

Many of the provisions in the Baucus-Grassley proposal, particularly the tax extenders, were seen as key to garnering Republican support.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday called the Baucus-Grassley proposal “a work in progress” and that not all of the Finance Committee’s Republicans were “invested in it yet.”