May 06,2004

Grassley on the JOBS Act Standstill, Outlook


To: Reporters and Editors
Re: JOBS Act outlook
Da: Thursday, May 6, 2004

Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Committee on Finance, today made the following comment on the outlook for the Jumpstart Our Business Strength (JOBS) Act.

“Last night, the JOBS train fell off the tracks. Early progress toward completing substantivedebate on the merits of the JOBS bill jerked to a halt, leaving the fate of many sectors of theAmerican economy in limbo.

“The problem is very straightforward. In a good-faith effort to complete action on the JOBSbill, we had an agreement with the Democratic leadership to bring up a limited number ofRepublican and Democratic amendments, to allow those amendments to be debated on the Senatefloor, and then to set aside the amendments so that the JOBS bill could progress toward passage.

There was no agreement on a timetable for further consideration of any particular amendment, andno guarantee of a vote on any particular amendment. That agreement was broken last night by asingle freshman Democratic senator who, operating at the behest of the Democratic leaders, refusedto honor this process by demanding that her amendment be addressed first and voted on to theexclusion and ahead of all others. This intransigence has brought progress on the JOBS bill to astandstill. In a single stroke, a bipartisan agreement to pass the JOBS bill and lift the yoke ofsanctions from our exporters was tossed aside in favor of political obstructionism. This partisanmaneuver has put completion of the JOBS bill in serious jeopardy. As an aside, if certain Democraticsenators were serious about enacting unemployment insurance benefits immediately, they wouldn’thave chosen a bill that hasn’t even passed the House and even after House passage, still faces thehurdle of conference committee.

“While sanctions escalate on our exporters, some senators continue to insist on playingpolitical games with our nation’s economy. Due to the delay in completing the JOBS bill, Europeansanctions on selected American exports now stand at seven percent. Because of the truncatedlegislative session, if we don’t complete action on the JOBS this bill this month, it likely won’t beconsidered again. Thus, by the next Congress, sanctions will stand at 17 percent, and a lot ofAmerican jobs will be lost to foreign competition. These jobs span the nation. Timber producers inWashington state, jewelry manufacturers in South Dakota, cheese producers in Wisconsin, and fruitgrowers in California -- all are at risk because of Senate obstructionism for political points.

“I’m committed to getting this bill done. I know that Senator Frist shares that view. But wecan’t accomplish this goal in the face of continued political obstructionism. The JOBS bill, andAmerican export jobs, are being held as political hostages.

“It’s time for the political chicanery to end. If it doesn’t, I hope we’ll file cloture on the JOBSbill. At the appropriate time, this will give senators an opportunity to vote to shut off further debateon the bill. If cloture fails, I won’t ask that the bill be brought up again this year.

“So senators will be given a clear choice -- they can continue to play politics with Americanjobs or they can vote to move the JOBS bill forward, thereby lifting the burden of sanctions from ourexports and giving American manufacturing an economic boost to help solidify our economicrecovery. Perhaps a perceived edge in this year’s congressional election is more important to somethan actually legislating real solutions to America’s economic problems. However, as chairman ofthe Finance Committee I’ve worked for more than a year to craft a bipartisan bill that can achievebroad support in the Senate. Time is running out for some of my colleagues to demonstrate they’rewilling to put politics aside for just a moment to help us achieve that goal. I hope they will. This billis too important to lose down the political drain.”