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Senate passes $15 billion jobs bill on bipartisan vote

Retiring Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio) was more specific, announcing Monday that he had agreed to back the jobs measure after getting a "commitment" from Reid that the Senate would take up a long-term reauthorization of the highway bill in 2010.

Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.), who is also not running for reelection, cited the bill's funding for transportation projects in explaining his decision to side with Democrats. During Monday's tally, Bond waited until the end to record his vote, not wanting to be the 60th "aye."

Democrats welcomed the result, suggesting that it could be a model for future endeavors.

"Several of those ideas were Republican ideas, so it's nice to see that there are Republicans who are willing to not follow blindly their leadership in their overall goal of filibustering," said Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.).

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, said she had helped rally support for the measure from the transportation industry. She said the lessons of Monday's vote were that Democrats "should keep our bills very clear" and should make sure that "the American people who are involved in these issues get on the phone with their senators."

Republicans contend that the jobs bill's lessons are not applicable to health-care reform or other, more ambitious legislation.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said the measure attracted support from his side of the aisle because it is modest.

"There are plenty of opportunities for bipartisan cooperation," he said. "Where we have trouble are these great big, comprehensive, 2,000-page, full-of-surprises, turn-the-country-upside-down pieces of legislation that cost so much. If the administration would stop biting off more than it could chew, I think we would have more progress."

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said the level of crossover support in the future would be based on whether Reid is willing to allow Republicans to help shape bills and offer amendments on the floor.

"I think it's going to depend on the nature of the bill and on whether he's going to try to freeze out the minority party," Cornyn said, adding that he would advise against reading too much into Monday's vote: "Frankly, I just don't think it was all that big of a deal."

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