In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, U.S. Senators Blanche Lincoln and Susan Collins (R-Maine) today urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to consider a bipartisan jobs bill when the Senate resumes session on Monday.
Senator Lincoln expressed her disappointment last week when Leader Reid set aside the bipartisan bill unveiled by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), which contained a set of provisions that enjoyed support from Democrats and Republicans.
Lincoln supports each of the provisions in Senator Reid's slimmed down version of legislation to put people back to work, which is why she will support cloture on the measure. However, Senator Lincoln does not believe the Reid package goes far enough to jumpstart the economy. That is why she is urging the leader to consider the bipartisan Baucus-Grassley bill on Monday, especially given the consensus that more can be done.
"I do not think Arkansans want us to stop at a 'slimmed down' effort to put people back to work," Lincoln said. "Senator Reid's alternative does contain provisions I support, but I see no reason we cannot move forward on the Baucus-Grassley measure, which does more."
The bipartisan Baucus-Grassley bill contains a series of additional Lincoln priorities, including a small business hiring tax incentive and disaster aid for farmers. It also includes an extension of several tax provisions that expired at the end of 2009, which provide much needed relief to individuals and businesses, such as the research and development credit, the biodiesel tax credit, the new markets tax credit, the empowerment zone incentives and others.
"My priority is to find the best plan to give small businesses the tools they need to start hiring again," Lincoln said. "The bipartisan Baucus-Grassley plan gives us an opportunity to further this goal in a meaningful way. I believe Arkansans sent me here to work constructively with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to produce results, and that is exactly why I am urging the Leader to consider bipartisan jobs legislation."
Following is the full text of the letter:
Dear Majority Leader Reid:
The American people are looking to Congress for bipartisan solutions to the very real kitchen table problems facing families in communities across our country. As two centrist members of the Senate, we write to you in hopes that the Senate will move quickly to address the most important issue in our country today -- putting Americans back to work. When the Senate returns to session on Monday, we urge you to reconsider your decision to bring to the floor a proposed jobs package put together without bipartisan input.
Last week, our colleagues, Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, announced agreement on draft legislation containing provisions important to restoring economic growth and reversing the severe job losses our nation has suffered over the past two years. While that package was not perfect, it represented a bipartisan compromise that demonstrated to the American people that the Senate is willing to set aside partisan differences to work together to address the challenges facing our nation.
Many provisions of the Baucus-Grassley package are widely acknowledged to produce jobs. We believe that a bipartisan jobs bill should include provisions to help small businesses, which will be key in leading the country to economic recovery. For example, the New Markets Tax Credit extension in the Baucus-Grassley legislation would provide access to capital for many small businesses in rural communities across the country. We also agree with the President that the capital gains tax should not be imposed on investments in qualified small businesses.
Extending the Research and Development tax credit would not only produce jobs in the short run, but also is essential to our nation's long-term economic competitiveness. Similarly, investments in infrastructure projects would create much-needed construction jobs while providing lasting assets for communities. Tax incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy will create "green" jobs and at the same time benefit our environment, promote alternative energy sources and advance the goal of energy independence. And other tax provisions that expired in 2009, such as the Empowerment Zone incentives and the adjusted tax rate on timber sales, are essential to maintain many existing jobs across rural America. These are but a few provisions that, in our judgment, would receive strong support from both sides of the aisle.
In closing, we ask again that you reconsider your decision and proceed to the jobs bill proposed last week by Senators Baucus and Grassley, which was forged in the bipartisan spirit that the American people expect from their elected officials. We look forward to a healthy debate next week on good ideas that have been offered by Members on both sides of the aisle.