Senate Republicans blocked passage of President Obama's $60 billion infrastructure bill Thursday. In a near party line vote, the measure failed to reach its 60 vote threshold.
The bill, part of the President Obama's $447 billion jobs plan called for $50 billion to be spent on highway improvements along with improvements to rail, transit and airports throughout the U.S.
The infrastructure measure also set aside $10 billion as seed money for an "Infrastructure Bank" designed as an attempt kick-start private investment in future construction.
Even with a majority of the vote, 51-49, Democrats fell far short of the 60 needed according to the Senate rules to proceed to a full debate on the floor. Also voting no on the measure were Senators Joe Lieberman (I-Conn) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)
In a statement released by the White House the President said, “It makes no sense when you consider that this bill was made up of the same kinds of common-sense proposals that many of these Senators have fought for in the past. It was fully paid for."
Yesterday's vote was the third attempt by President Obama and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to pass pieces of the President's jobs bill announce before a joint session of Congress back in September of this year.
The most recent attempt met the same fate when Democrats failed to reach 60 votes on a $35 billion bill aimed at preventing layoffs of teachers and first responders in October receiving 57 of the 60 votes needed to proceed.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) had this to say after the vote "The truth is, Democrats are more interested in building a campaign message than in rebuilding roads and bridges," adding, "And frankly, the American people deserve a lot better than that."
Republicans unanimously opposed the measure due in part as the bill called for a 0.7% surtax on those making more than a million dollars a year to pay for the increase in infrastructure spending.
Shortly after the vote on the Democratic bill a Republican version was introduced, voted on and defeated. The competing plan would have extended existing highway and transit spending for the next two years and roll back some environmental regulations, along with a $40 billion cut in domestic programs which Democrats are firmly against.
Later, the White House released a statement ripping into the Republicans, putting the blame for the recent gridlock on Capital Hill squarely on their shoulders.
"The American people deserve to know why their Republican representatives in Washington refuse to put some of the workers hit hardest by the economic downturn back on the job rebuilding America," read the statement.
"It's time for Republicans in Congress to put country ahead of party and listen to the people they were elected to serve. It's time for them to do their job and focus on Americans' jobs."