The Senate passed a jobs bill Wednesday that would offer temporary payroll tax exemptions to employers hiring new workers.
It's the first of several election-year job bills promised by Democratic lawmakers, and is now set to go to the White House for President Barack Obama's signature. The vote passed by a 68-29 vote.
"We need to help people get jobs," said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Finance Committee. "We need to do more to help businesses to hire more workers."
Some economic analysts are skeptical that the measure will do much to boost hiring.
The bill exempts businesses that hire the unemployed from paying the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax through December.
It also gives employers an extra $1,000 credit if new workers stay on the job for a year. In addition, it would pump $20 billion into highway and mass transit programs.
Critics charge the tax breaks would probably go to companies likely to hire new workers anyway.