WASHINGTON - Once again, a Senate Republican filibuster killed a pro-worker bill, the Bring The Jobs Home Act, to extend tax credits to firms which do just that.
By a 54-42 vote on July 30, lawmakers tried to cut off the GOP talkathon against the Bring The Jobs Home Act. The measure would yank tax deductions from firms that off-shore U.S. jobs while extending a 20 percent federal tax credit to those that return off-shored jobs to our shores. Senators needed 60 votes to cut off the debate and didn't get them.
One Republican, Maine's Susan Collins, voted to end the filibuster. The others, plus Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, voted to talk the bill to death. Collins, 52 Democrats, and both independents voted against the filibuster. Three Republicans and a Democrat did not vote.
The Steelworkers lobbied hard for the legislation, S2569. The union's delegation visited lawmakers the week before and union President Leo Gerard wrote to each senator, urging its passage. Union members also sent a flood of phone calls and e-mails to senators. Chamber of Commerce pressure rounded up enough Republicans to kill the bill via the filibuster.
The vote deeply disappointed Gerard, who said USW members would make it "a benchmark" for their own votes in this fall's election.
"The procedural vote by Republicans and their leadership blocked the jobs bill, making a statement that corporate deserters get political priority for tax breaks in moving jobs overseas, rather than advancing tax credits to advocate jobs at home for working families," he said.
"USW members understand the importance of today's vote. We will not give up on this important jobs legislation and will make it a benchmark of Election 2014 for senators up for re-election," he added.
The 'Bring The Jobs Home' bill is the latest in a line of pro-worker bills that fell victim to Republican filibusters in the GOP-hamstrung 113th Congress. The others included three tries to extend federal benefits for the long-term jobless and an equal pay for equal work bill.
All of the measures also pointed up the contrast between the two parties in the run-up to the November election, where Democrats defend 21 of the 35 available Senate seats.
"It is time for Congress to reverse tax policies that create incentives to off-shore jobs instead of incentives to keep jobs here at home. Over the past decade, Americans have seen more than 6 million manufacturing jobs lost and over 55,000 manufacturing facilities shutter their doors forever," Gerard said after the vote.
In his letter to lawmakers before the vote, Gerard told them "the tax code should be a tool to bring back jobs and put people back to work-not a means to produce rampant off-shoring by our major companies.
Commerce Department data "show during the 2000's that U.S. companies cut their workforces in the United States by a staggering 2.9 million jobs, while simultaneously creating 2.4 million jobs overseas," Gerard added.
"Too many of our tax policies continue to reward multinational companies - companies that have for far too long been off-shoring jobs - regardless of the harm caused to ordinary working Americans and the nation's Treasury, as they forgo paying taxes for doing so.
Veteran Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who has seen industrial jobs off-shored from her home, Baltimore, advocated passing the bill. Approving it, she said, is "economic patriotism."
Describing herself as "a blue-collar senator" from a Baltimore neighborhood of "mom-and-pop businesses and factories," said Mikulski, who grew up among steel plants making World War II weaponry, told her colleagues that "the blue-collar Baltimore of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam just isn't what it used to be.
"Where did those jobs go? Those jobs are on a slow boat to China and a fast track to Mexico. And why did they go? In some cases, they went because of tax breaks that rewarded corporations for moving manufacturing overseas. It is wrong to give companies incentives to send jobs to other countries, especially when millions of Americans are looking for work.
"The current tax code is putting companies that keep their business here, hire their workers at home, pay their share of taxes, and provide health care to their employees, at a disadvantage. We should be rewarding these companies with 'good guy' tax breaks," she said. "They need a government on their side and at their side...Economic patriotism means bringing our jobs back home, bringing our money back home, and standing up for America."