WASHINGTON (CN) – Republicans broke rank Monday night when the Senate voted 62-30 to advance a second $15 billion stimulus bill, a rare show in what has been described as one of the most partisan legislatures in history. Newly elected Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown – who describes himself as an independent voice – was the first to join the Democrats in voting for the bill, which is intended to promote job growth.
Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe from Maine, George Voinovich from Ohio and Christopher Bond from Missouri followed suit, The New York Times reported.
Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson was the only Democrat to oppose the bill. Nelson has been at odds with other members of the Democratic Party for voicing concern over health care reform.
The vote put an end to debate on the bill – which was drafted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada – and prepares it for a final vote on the floor.
It is now expected to pass out of the Senate and into the House, where further changes could be made.
The plan includes $13 billion in payroll tax reductions for companies that hire unemployed Americans and keep them on through the end of the year.
With Democrats controlling both houses, Republicans have complained that they have little say on legislation, and have joined in opposing many Democratic bills, including some on health reform, climate change and national debt issues. Republicans may now find it difficult to oppose a Democratic jobs bill in an environment where 9.7 percent of Americans are unemployed.