- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 11, 2010

Two senators released a draft of a bipartisan jobs proposal on Thursday that would lift some payroll taxes for newly hired workers, provide funding for highway and infrastructure projects, and extend unemployment benefits.

The long-awaited proposal, which attempts to tackle the nation’s 9.7 percent unemployment rate, comes from Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, who is Senate Finance Committee chairman, and Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, who is the ranking minority member on the panel. They said they wanted the Senate to move “expeditiously” on their bill, but they warned that “any efforts that needlessly rush the process through partisan means will undermine our goal of a bipartisan and transparent Senate legislative product.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, originally hoped to release a bipartisan jobs proposal last week and hold a vote last Monday. But parliamentary delays and the twin snowstorms in Washington have pushed back the vote.

With no votes scheduled in the Senate this week and next week’s Presidents Day recess looming, action isn’t expected until the week of Feb. 22.

The bill’s payroll-tax exemption, originally proposed by Sens. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, and Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, would forgive Social Security payroll taxes for every person hired in 2010 who has been unemployed for 60 days.

The legislation would be paid for through eliminating tax benefits for certain biofuel producers, including so-called “black liquor,” and cracking down on offshore tax abuses.