The wrangling over that $23 billion edujobs bill continues.
Originally, the Senate sponsor of the measure, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the chairman of the subcommittee that oversees education spending, had planned to offer the legislation as an amendment to the war supplemental spending bill that the Senate is expected to consider soon.
That strategy made sense because a) the war supplemental is a must-pass bill, and b) it's emergency spending, so the $23 billion wouldn't need to be offset.
But Harkin changed his game plan once he realized that he couldn't get the 60 votes needed to pass the provision.
Here's how he explained his decision:
I have decided not to offer an amendment on education jobs funding to the supplemental appropriations bill. I've counted the votes, and I am confident that a clear majority of Senators would support such an amendment. But under Senate rules, we need more than a majority - we need a supermajority of 60 votes. And since no Republicans have agreed to support this amendment, we can't get to 60.
Nevertheless, I remain committed to securing this funding. There are other ways to get it. For example, the House is on track to include $23 billion for education jobs in its supplemental appropriations bill. When the bill goes to conference, I will fight to ensure that the House funding prevails. Three hundred thousand jobs and the education of our Nation's children depend on it.
UPDATE: It's not clear that it was just Republicans who opposed the measure. Senate Democrats also had concerns, according to this story.
The House Appropriations Committee is expected to consider the supplemental measure later this week. The House already passed a version of the edujobs bill back in December, but it was a squeaker of a vote and may be an even tougher lift now that the 2010 midterm election is around the corner.
To drum up support, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif. the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and representatives from the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers are holding a press conference tomorrow to highlight the looming tidal wave of layoffs.