WASHINGTON (CN) – Top senators on the Finance Committee released details of a new $85 billion jobs bill Thursday, after they were delayed several days by a massive snow storm.
The senators are carefully seeking bipartisan support for the bill, which responds to President Obama’s calls to give employers hiring incentives.
“We want the bipartisan character of the discussions that led to this draft package to remain as the package is considered,” committee chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a joint statement.
They urged the Senate not to change the bill too much for fear it would alter the carefully crafted political balance.
Under the terms of the bill, businesses that hire those who have been unemployed for more than two months would get a payroll tax exemption, and employers that keep new workers for more than 52 weeks would get a $1,000 income tax credit.
The government would also promote jobs by undertaking more construction projects,
And for those who continue to be unemployed, the proposed legislation would extend unemployment benefits and health care coverage.
The senators said a portion of the costs would be offset by closing tax loopholes and from money saved by improved efficiency in Medicare.
Baucus and Grassley urged lawmakers not to rush the legislation through Congress, likely for fear Republicans would interpret such a move as Democrats abusing their voting power.
At the same time, they urged lawmakers not to delay the pressing bill, as Republicans have consistently done during this Congress, while their numbers have been small.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was vague in answering questions last week on how many jobs the bill is expected to create. “We’re going to create as many as we can,” he said.
The plan mirrors Obama’s proposal to give businesses tax incentives to hire. In the budget that Obama submitted to Congress last, the government would reward small businesses with a $5,000 tax credit for every employee they hire this year and would give tax breaks for raises in salary beyond inflation.
The Senate will have three days to review the bill before it can be put to a vote, and Democrats and Republicans have scheduled separate meetings to discuss the legislation. A vote would likely happen after next week’s Senate recess.