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President Obama jobs bill fails to pass Senate

President Obama and others expected Republicans to vote against the jobs bill but Obama says, 'we can't take 'no' for an answer.'

By Associated Press / October 12, 2011

President Obama loses job bill vote: Sen. Ben Nelson arrives at the Capitol for the vote on President Barack Obama's jobs bill, which later failed in the Democrat-controlled Senate at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday. Nelson did not support the President Obama on the bill.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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Senate Republicans voted Tuesday night to kill the jobs package President Barack Obama had spent weeks campaigning for across the country, a stinging loss at the hands of lawmakers opposed to stimulus-style spending and a tax increase on the very wealthy.

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The $447 billion plan died on a 50-49 tally that garnered a majority of the 100-member Senate but fell well short of the 60 votes needed to keep the bill alive. The tally had been 51-48, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid switched his vote to "nay" so that he could force a future revote.

The demise of Obama's jobs package was expected, despite his campaign-style efforts to swing the public behind it. The White House and leaders in Congress were already moving on to alternative ways to address the nation's painful 9.1 percent unemployment, including breaking the legislation into smaller, more digestible pieces and approving long-stalled trade bills.

"Tonight's vote is by no means the end of this fight," Obama said in a statement after the vote. "Because with so many Americans out of work and so many families struggling, we can't take 'no' for an answer."

The White House appears most confident that it will be able to continue a 2-percentage-point Social Security payroll tax cut through 2012 and to extend emergency unemployment benefits to millions of people — if only because, in the White House view, Republicans won't want to accept the political harm of letting those provisions expire.

White House officials are also hopeful of ultimately garnering votes for the approval of infrastructure spending and tax credits for businesses that hire unemployed veterans.

"Now it's time for both parties to work together and find common ground on removing government barriers to private-sector job growth," House Speaker John Boehner said after the vote.

Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Jon Tester of Montana — both up for re-election next year in states where Obama figures to lose — broke with their party on Tuesday night's vote. Every Republican present opposed the plan.

Earlier in the day, Obama capped his weekslong campaign for the measure in an appearance typical of the effort — a tough-talking speech in Pennsylvania, a swing state crucial to his re-election. Like earlier appearances, it seemed aimed more at rallying his core political supporters heading into the election than changing minds on Capitol Hill.

"Any senator who votes no should have to look you in the eye and tell you what exactly they're opposed to," Obama said to a labor union audience in Pittsburgh. "I think they'll have a hard time explaining why they voted no on this bill — other than the fact that I proposed it."

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