Iowans split on party lines as House passes scaled-back jobs bill

The House of Representatives approved a jobs bill today containing about $15 billion in tax incentives and a $20 billion allocation from the Highway Trust Fund to support infrastructure projects. (The Senate had approved the legislation on February 24.) Iowa Democrats Bruce Braley (IA-01), Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and Leonard Boswell (IA-03) voted for the bill, while Iowa Republicans Tom Latham (IA-04) and Steve King (IA-05) voted against it (roll call here). Six Republicans joined 211 Democrats in supporting the bill, while 35 Democrats opposed it along with most of the GOP caucus. The Democratic opponents were mostly members of either the Progressive Caucus or the Congressional Black Caucus:

Congressman [Raul] Grijalva, one of the leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, had dismissed the tax-credit focused bill as not “dealing with job creation.” […] The CBC’s position during the month long debate on the $15 billion jobs tax credit package was fairly straightforward – CBC members don’t want to back a bill that was composed of tax breaks for business which they don’t believe will necessarily create jobs when other job-creating programs the CBC supports, such a summer youth jobs program, face an uncertain future in the Senate.

Braley had introduced a separate bill last month containing language similar to part of the jobs bill approved today:

Braley’s language in the HIRE Act provides small business owners with greater incentives to hire workers for long-term positions, providing $1,000 in additional tax incentives for businesses that retain employees for 52 consecutive weeks. The payroll tax cut provides greater incentive for employers to move quickly to hire new workers because the credit expires at the end of the year.  The sooner employees are hired, the more time small business owners have to benefit from the credit.

The [Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment] Act also includes the following provisions:

o       Tax cuts to spur new investment by small businesses to help them expand and hire more workers

o       Extension of the Highway Trust Fund allowing for tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure investment

o       Provisions — modeled after the Build America Bonds program – to make it easier for states to borrow for infrastructure projects, such as school construction and energy projects

Earlier this week, Republican Senator Jim Bunning ended his filibuster of a bill including a temporary extension of unemployment benefits and other measures. The Senate then approved the bill by a 78 to 19 vote. Both Democrat Tom Harkin and Republican Chuck Grassley voted for the bill. However, Grassley defended Bunning’s efforts to demand that the bill be paid for, while Harkin said Bunning had abused Senate procedures in blocking the bill for several days. I do agree with one point Grassley raised: the unemployment benefits should have been included in the jobs bill the Senate approved on February 24.

Obama signed the bill right away on March 3. Not only did that extend unemployment and COBRA benefits, it also allowed furloughed Department of Transportation workers to come back to work and prevented a big cut in Medicare payments to physicians from going into effect.

Speaking of jobs-related legislation, Roxanne Conlin’s campaign blasted Grassley this week for announcing that some Dubuque workers are eligible for a retraining program that he voted against. After the jump you can read the press release, which includes background information on the program and Grassley’s voting record.  

Press release from Roxanne Conlin’s Senate campaign, March 2, 2010:

HYPOCRISY ALERT!

Grassley Announces Help for Unemployed After Voting Against Helping Them

(Des Moines) –  In a press release yesterday Senator Charles Grassley announced Dubuque workers who lost their jobs at Ductsox corporation in May of 2007 are eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance worker retraining, a program he voted against.  “Senator Grassley must think Iowans are not paying attention,” said Roxanne Conlin’s campaign manager, Mark Daley.   “He voted five times to give tax cuts to companies who ship our jobs overseas and against helping displaced workers, then took credit when they got help.  Thirty-five years in Washington sure can change a person.”

Background:

Grassley Release March 1, 2010

U.S. Sen. Grassley: Workers at Ductsox Corporation in Dubuque eligible for assistance 3/1/2010

(Washington) – Chuck Grassley today said that workers from Ductsox Corporation in Dubuque are eligible to apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance.

“This assistance will help provide workers with new skills and training so they can get back on their feet and compete for new jobs in the future,” Grassley said. Read the full release here.

Grassley’s Voting Record:

Grassley Voted Against an Amendment to Maintain Worker Retraining Component of TAA Program. In 1995, Grassley voted against the “Moynihan, D-N.Y., amendment to maintain the worker retraining assistance part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program, which provides job retraining for American workers laid off as a direct result of an American international trade program such as the North American Free Trade Agreement.” [Vote 482, 10/10/95] (The amendment was in response to provisions in the larger bill that repealed training funding under TAA and NAFTA Transitional Adjustment Assistance programs.)

Grassley sponsored a motion to table (kill) the Dorgan amendment that would partially repeal a tax deferral regulation for U.S. multinational companies by requiring those companies to pay federal income taxes on foreign factories when goods are re-imported back into the United States. [vote 83, 5/5/04, passed 60-39 (R 51-0, D 8-39)]

Grassley voted against an amendment by Sen. Hollings to the Corporate Tax Overhaul bill that would strike $39 billion in tax breaks on overseas income from the bill. [Vote 90, 5/11/04]

Grassley voted for passage of the Corporate Tax Overhaul bill which repeals the extraterritorial income (ETI) tax regime in response to a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling against the United States; creates a new manufacturing deduction equal to nine percent of a company’s domestic production income, effectively reducing the tax rate on such income by three percent, from 35 percent to 32 percent; and allows U.S. companies to pay a lower tax rate on funds repatriated from foreign subsidiaries for one year. [vote 91, 5/11/04, passed 92-5 (R 47-3, D 44-2)]

In 2004, Grassley voted against prohibiting American tax dollars from being used to ship jobs outside the country.  [Vote 41, 3/11/04]

Grassley voted against a Breaux amendment to the Corporate Tax Overhaul bill that would require companies to spend offshore profits on job creation, research and development, capital investment or funding pension plans in order to be eligible for a reduced tax rate of 5.25 percent. [vote 81, 5/5/04]

In 2005, Grassley voted against an amendment that would repeal tax incentives for domestic companies that move their manufacturing plants to offshore locations and use the resulting revenue to reduce the federal deficit and debt by $3.2 billion from 2006 to 2010. [Vote 63, 3/17/05]

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