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WASHINGTON — Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., set out this week to prove wrong Americans who believe that Congress can't agree on anything.
 
With Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., Rubio has sponsored a jobs bill, written essentially by compiling a list of the job-creating provisions embraced by both parties.
 
"We're not claiming this bill solves all of our economic problems," Rubio said Wednesday. But if it passes, he said, Americans will "be able to open up the newspaper one day and actually be able to read the Republicans and Democrats came together passed legislation they actually agree on."
 
The American Growth, Recovery, Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Act - pithily called the AGREE Act - would:
  • Extend and strengthen tax credits for businesses investing in research and development.
  • Stave off the expiration of deductions for businesses spending money on equipment and other capital.
  • Offer tax incentives for companies to take the ideas they dream up on U.S. soil and produce them here.
  • Provide a tax credit of 25 percent of the start-up fee for veterans who open some kind of franchise.
  • Remove regulatory barriers for small businesses going public.
  • Remove per-country limits on employment-based visas in an attempt to allow the brightest foreign students to remain in the country.
  • Protect American intellectual property from counterfeiting.

 
Nearly all of the provisions came from other bills, feedback from business owners or directly from job plans proposed by the Obama administration or by Republicans.
 
For reasons that only politics can explain, Democrats and Republicans have been reluctant to vote in favor of legislation that includes provisions both parties have said they support.
 
"We don't think this is normal," Rubio said. "I'm not used to people fighting over things they agree on."
 
While some see Rubio's bill as a genuine attempt to get something moving in the nation's capital, others view it as a smart political move from a fresh face, widely touted as a vice presidential contender. For his part, Rubio says he has no plans to serve as the nation's No. 2.
 
There are real divisions in Washington that only an election can solve, Rubio said, but in a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday, he urged Congress to support the bill.
 
The mere act of getting anything done in Congress could be enough to spur some business owners standing on the sidelines, unsure whether to invest while the economy is so shaky and politicians are doing so little about it, Rubio said.

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