The jobs agenda put forth by Senate Democrats has begun to lose support within their own caucus, including a Tuesday vote in which a bipartisan filibuster defeated a bill to stop jobs from being shipped overseas.
The bill and a stopgap spending measure were likely the last major debates before Senators leave town this week to prepare for November's elections.
The jobs bill would have offered a payroll tax break to companies that move jobs from overseas to the United States and would have withdrawn tax writeoffs from companies that laid off U.S. workers and replaced them with employees overseas.
But four Democrats and one Democratic-leaning independent joined 40 Republicans to filibuster the bill, arguing that it was too blunt an approach to a very delicate problem. Among the opponents was the chairman of the Finance Committee, Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, who had said the bill would put U.S. companies at a "competitive disadvantage."
"The reality of the consequences for manufacturing jobs in the United States was cast aside to create a debate for political demagoguery," Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, said.
The measure was the latest "jobs bill" Democrats have put on the floor in recent months, with varying degrees of success. A small-business lending fund measure was signed by President Obama earlier this week after a smattering of Republicans broke with their leaders to back it.
Overall, though, Democrats have had a difficult time both in getting their jobs packages passed and in connecting with voters, who are concerned about the unemployment rate, which ticked up to 9.6 percent last month.
In the run-up to Tuesday's vote, Democrats blamed Republicans for blocking many of the Democrats' attempts.
"We're in a situation now where too many colleagues seem to be rooting for failure," said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Michigan Democrat, who was one of the leaders in the push for the bill to stop jobs being shipped overseas.
And Sen. Bob Casey, Pennsylvania Democrat, said he "can't think of a single big idea [Republicans] have offered to create jobs."
Democrats acknowledged their jobs message is running into interference with Congress tackling so many issues, but Mrs. Stabenow said they are reaching voters in key states, and it is having an effect.
"We are seeing much more intensity about these state by state," she said.
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