WASHINGTON — Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe cast key votes Wednesday morning to break a GOP filibuster and advance a bill to help states and local school boards with their severe budget problems.
The bill would extend programs enacted in last year’s stimulus law to help preserve the jobs of tens of thousands of teachers and other public employees.
The 61-38 vote Wednesday ensures the measure will pass the Senate shortly. A final vote in the House will be needed to deliver it for President Obama’s signature.
Unlike the stimulus bill, the $26 billion measure wouldn’t increase the budget deficit. It is paid for with spending cuts and a tax increase on U.S. companies operating overseas.
Maine Gov. John Baldacci praised the senators for their votes.
“Senators Snowe and Collins today cast a critical vote for jobs, for health care and for education,” Baldacci said in a statement. “Their action today will have a profound impact on Maine as our State works to recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression. It will mean better health care for our people and a stronger education system for our children.”