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A massive bill that cleared Congress last month to fund federal transportation projects was a rare example of legislation claimed by both parties to boost job growth.

“This is the jobs bill for the 112th Congress,” said House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica, Florida Republican. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, called the measure — which promises to save or create almost 3 million jobs — an important “investment in good-paying American jobs.”

But the “highway bill” almost was derailed when House GOP leaders initially insisted it include a provision for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would carry oil from the tar sands of the Canadian province Alberta to Nebraska and eventually the Gulf Coast. Republicans gave in to Democratic demands to leave the pipeline out of the bill.

Keystone highlighted a frequent debate regarding so-called jobs bills: just how many jobs would be preserved or created. GOP backers often put the number at tens of thousands, a figure dismissed by opponents as excessively optimistic.

While lawmakers consider just about any legislation they like a jobs bill, they also are quick to tag measures they loathe as job killers. Enter President Obama’s health care law, which Republicans say will force employers to lay off workers or close up shop altogether.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Republican and former presidential candidate, told CNN in late June that the “No. 1 reason [small businesses] aren’t hiring is because of Obamacare.”

“Without a shadow of a doubt, millions of jobs are going to now leave America” because of the health care law, she said.

Mr. Boehner has scheduled a mostly symbolic vote this week to repeal the health care law “as part of Republicans’ focus on removing government barriers to private-sector job creation.”

The president has said the health care law, most of which was upheld by the Supreme Court last month, will lay a foundation for a stronger economy that will create jobs.