By Bill Raack, St. Louis Public Radio/Associated Press
Washington, D.C. – The Senate is sending the first of several promised election-year jobs bills to President Obama for his signature.
The bill approved Wednesday would provide a temporary payroll tax holiday to companies that hire and would pump $20 billion into the federal highway construction fund to make up for low gasoline tax revenues.
U.S. Senator Kit Bond of Missouri was among just eleven Republicans voting for the bill. He says the vote was necessary to get access to money for state road projects.
"I did not vote with them because I agree with the procedure that Harry Reid instituted. I voted with them because our highways were being held hostage and we needed to repeal that $8 billion cut which cost Missouri over $200 million a year and all contracts for the coming year," Bond said.
The delay in approving the federal jobs bill forced Missouri transportation officials to postpone the opening of bids on some state highway projects.
The measure would also exempt businesses hiring unemployed from the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax through December and give employers an additional $1,000 credit if new workers stay on the job a full year.
Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri says it's the first of several promised bills that will try to put the unemployed back to work.
"The help for small businesses I hope will have an immediate impact since that will be the engine that will grow the jobs that are really necessary for our long-term economic growth," McCaskill said.
Critics argue that the bill is not the job-creating engine Democrats have advertised.