A majority of the Democratically controlled Senate voted Tuesday night to end debate on the President's jobs bill and proceed to a vote, but that was far short of the 60 votes needed to bring the bill to the floor for debate and prevent a Republican filibuster that essentially killed the bill. The vote was 50 to 49, according to C-SPAN.
That bill had included incentive auctions of broadcast spectrum for wireless broadband along the lines of the stand-alone bill backed by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.). Specifically, the legislation would have given the Federal Communications Commission authority to compensate broadcasters from proceeds of auction of their spectrum, which the FCC currently does not have. Wireless companies are expected to buy up the spectrum to relieve what they say is a capacity crunch that could become a crisis. In addition to compensating broadcasters to the tune of several billion dollar, the auction proceeds would fund an interoperable broadband emergency communications network and have enough left over for billions of dollars more for deficit reduction.
The spectrum auctions had been appended to must-pass stop-gap budget legislation back in August, but did not get a vote then either when it was removed by Sen. Harry Reid for procedural reasons.
That leaves the bipartisan deficit-reduction Supercommittee as the most more likely venue for the spectrum legislation given those billions for the Treasury -- it is charged with reducing the deficit by over a trillion dollars, so every drop in the bucket helps.
The President said in a statement late Tuesday that the vote was not the end of the fight, but indicated the jobs bill as a package would be broken up into constituent parts. He said he would work with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid "to make sure that the individual proposals in this jobs bill get a vote as soon as possible," though he did not mention the spectrum auctions in his statement, focusing on jobs, cutting taxes for small business, and raising them on millionaires.