In a move that suggests a small thaw in the frozen partisanship of Washington, five Republicans joined all but one Democrat in the Senate Monday to push forward an important jobs-creation bill.
The legislation is badly needed. U.S. unemployment stands at nearly 10 percent with no suggestion that it is going to drop soon of its own accord. While the measure would cost $15 billion, it is designed to create tens of thousands of jobs.
The vote to bring the proposal to the floor was the key development Monday. The bill itself is cleared for a vote in the Senate today and, if passed, will move to the House of Representatives, where its prospects are also considered strong.
By joining the majority in the 62-30 procedural vote, the five Republicans abandoned the do-nothing position their party has taken toward major proposals put forward by Senate Democrats or President Barack Obama. Newly elected Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts and fellow Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, George V. Voinovich of Ohio and Christopher S. Bond of Missouri evidently realized that a vote against a jobs-creation bill would not play well in their employment-starved states.
The only Democrat to vote against the plan was Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Although his stated reason for voting no was that he first wanted the federal stimulus program to work its way through the economy, he may be reacting to Mr. Obama's new health care proposal, which would remove the special provision in the Senate health bill that would make the federal government pay for the Medicaid expansion required in Nebraska. It will be interesting to see how Nebraskans -- and the people in the states represented in the 29 Republican "no" votes -- will react to their senators' rejection of this jobs creation effort.
The next round in Mr. Obama's attempts to deal with the country's problems will come Thursday with his public health care summit. The Republicans are perfectly free to continue to block action on important matters like job creation and health care reform. But the Democrats should feel free to let the public see them doing it.