Kirk, Durbin weigh in on Obama's jobs bill

October 11, 2011 2:48:36 PM PDT
The U.S. Senate is nearing a vote on President Barack Obama's $447 billion jobs bill.

The legislation is likely to be defeated by Republican senators opposed to stimulus spending and a tax surcharge on millionaires.

In some ways, Tuesday afternoon's vote might mark the beginning of Obama's re-election campaign, as it will paints a stark contrast between the president's policies of those of his opponents.

As expected, Illinois' two senators are split on the jobs bill. One will vote yea, the other nay.

Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., will side with some of the most conservative elements of his party as well as some Democrats who say no to the jobs bill if it includes more taxes on wealthier Americans to pay for it.

"I will be a nay because what I have argued is we need to work out a bipartisan policy," Kirk said. "As we teeter on the edge of a recession, I think the better way to go is to pare back the cost of government."

Kirk takes a view opposite of his Democratic Illinois counterpart Sen. Dick Durbin. In the weeks since the president outlined his $450 billion jobs program, Durbin has campaigned tirelessly -- and perhaps unsuccessfully -- to get 60 votes in the Senate to pass it.

"Without the support from Republican Senators the president's jobs bill will not pass. That's a reality," Durbin said.

The president and members of his administration have accused Republicans with playing election year politics with the jobs bill while millions of American suffer the recession.

White House spokesman Jay Carney says if opponents defeat the entire bill Tuesday night, its component parts will not go away.

"If we don't get the whole thing at once, then we will, absolutely, be happy to move forward with the fight and have each provision voted on and signed into law," Carney said.

Kirk, who represents president Obama's Democrat-heavy home state, says he's not worried about the political risk he might take with his no vote.

"I don't think there's a political risk. I think one of the questions you have to ask is, 'Should we pass a Stimulus 2 if Stimulus 1 didn't work?'" Kirk said.

Kirk wants votes on parts of the bill on which the two political parties agree. Carney says those kinds of votes are likely to be called in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

But the problem is that the White House says the government needs taxes on the wealthy to pay for the bill.

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