WASHINGTON — A bipartisan bill that would provide tax cuts for businesses that hire unemployed workers cleared a GOP filibuster in the Senate on Monday, opening the way for final congressional approval.
The Senate voted 61-30 to end debate on the measure. The Senate is expected to vote on final passage today or Wednesday, sending the bill to President Barack Obama for his signature.
The bill contains two major provisions. First, it would exempt businesses hiring the unemployed from the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax through December and give employers an additional $1,000 credit if new workers stay on the job a full year. The Social Security trust funds would be reimbursed for lost revenue.
Second, it would extend highway and mass transit programs through the end of the year and pump in $20 billion in time for the spring construction season. The money would make up for lower-than-expected gasoline tax revenues.
The Senate passed a similar version of the measure in February. The House made minor changes when it passed the bill, requiring its return to the Senate for approval.
Justice Stevens considers retirement
Justice John Paul Stevens, at 89 the Supreme Court’s oldest member, said he will decide in the next month or so whether this term will be his last. Stevens told The New Yorker magazine that he definitely will retire in the next three years. The leader of the court’s liberals, Stevens is the second oldest justice in U.S. history and fourth longest-serving.
Ohio: More charges in alleged punching of children
Police in Columbus have brought two more assault charges against a Walmart shopper accused of punching children in the head. Investigators said 68-year-old Ralph Conone told them it was exciting to hit children with their parents nearby. Conone was arrested at a Walmart last week on similar charges after police said he smacked a woman’s sons with a key sticking out of his fist. Police said the new charges involve a 2-year-old boy struck the same way in two separate incidents at the store on Feb. 28.
Pennsylvania: Bus driver charged in second fatal crash
Prosecutors say surveillance video shows a sleep-deprived school bus driver running stop signs before causing a fatal crash last month outside a Norristown middle school. Frederick Poust III had been ticketed a decade ago for careless driving following a crash that killed a 2-year-old girl; he had been talking on a cell phone. In the new case, prosecutors said Poust turned in front of a compact car, killing its passenger and injuring the driver. Five students on the bus were hurt. Investigators said he wasn’t using a cell phone during last month’s crash. Poust is charged with homicide by vehicle.
Iran: Pro-reform party banned
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hard-line government said Monday it has banned Iran’s largest pro-reform political party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front, in a new strike against an opposition movement that has largely been swept from the streets since last year’s post-election turmoil. Keeping the pressure on elsewhere, dozens of government supporters descended on the home of Mahdi Karroubi, a main opposition leaders, on Sunday night, shouting slogans against him and vandalizing his property.
U.N.: Tigers nearly extinct
The world has “failed miserably” at protecting tigers in the wild, bringing an animal that is a symbol for many cultures and religions to “the verge of extinction,” a top official with the United Nations wildlife agency said Monday. Just 20 years ago there were 100,000 tigers in Asia, but now only 3,200 remain in the wild, according to U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Tigers are poached for their skins and parts of their bodies are prized for decoration and traditional medicine.
Israel: U.S. wants Jerusalem building plan scuttled
The Obama administration is demanding that Israel call off a contentious building project in east Jerusalem and make a public gesture toward the Palestinians, officials on both sides said Monday. Announcement of the plan to build 1,600 apartments for Jews in the Ramot Shlomo neighborhood came during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit last week, angering Palestinians and endangering the start of indirect peace negotiations that are to be mediated by a U.S. envoy. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed little sign of yielding, saying Jewish construction in east Jerusalem “in no way” hurts Palestinians.
From Herald news services