WASHINGTON (CN) – President Obama signed a $35 billion jobs bill into law Thursday after it garnered bipartisan support. “Our economy is now growing again and we may soon be adding jobs instead of losing them, Obama said before signing. “The jobs bill I’m signing today is intended to help accelerate that process.”
“I’m signing it mindful that the solution to our economic problems will not come from government alone,” he said. “But what we can do is promote a strong, dynamic private sector.”
But he said the bill is not enough, and called for more legislation.
Eleven Republican senators joined the Democratic majority the day before to pass the legislation in a 68-29 vote in a break from what has been described as one of the most partisan legislatures in history.
The bill cuts the 6.2 percent payroll tax for employers who hire Americans that have been unemployed for at least two months and offers a $1,000 tax credit for each of these employees who stays on for a whole year.
The cuts are estimated to cost the government $15 billion in lost revenue and would expire at the end of the year.
Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson was the only Democratic senator to oppose the bill. Nelson has been at odds with other members of the Democratic Party for voicing concern over health care reform.
The bill also directs $20 billion to federal road and bridge construction.
With unemployment still high at 9.7 percent, lawmakers have been looking for ways to generate jobs, and the Obama administration shifted its domestic priority from health care reform to job growth.
The Senate voted 62-30 last month to move forward on the bill and lawmakers had hoped to get the bill to Obama weeks earlier, but it was slowed in the House by Democrats who said the bill does not do enough, and by procedural hurdles in the Senate.
During the time between the votes to move the bill forward and to pass it, five Republicans who had opposed the bill turned around to support it: Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, Florida Sen. George LeMieux and Arkansas Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
Two switched from a definite position, deciding not to vote the second time. West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd dropped his support of the bill and Idaho Republican Mike Crapo dropped his opposition.
And two who did not vote the first time decided to vote for the bill the second time: North Carolina Republican Richard Burr and New Jersey Democrat Frank Lautenberg.Five Republicans who did not vote to advance the bill came in to vote against the bill in the final vote: Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson.