By  on March 18, 2010

WASHINGTON — The Senate sent a $17.6 billion jobs bill to President Obama on Wednesday that gives tax breaks to businesses that hire workers and invest in new equipment.

Apparel industry and retail groups view the bill, which passed 68-29, as a good first step in helping companies. They also are seeking more help from the Obama administration to jump-start the economy and create jobs.

The centerpiece of the bill is a $13 billion provision that offers an exemption from Social Security taxes this year to companies that hire new workers who have been unemployed for at least 60 days. Companies would also receive a $1,000 tax credit on their 2011 income tax returns for each new worker that is retained for a full year.

Another provision allows small businesses to immediately write off equipment purchases made this year up to $250,000 as business expenses, instead of depreciating those costs over time.

President Obama, speaking in the Oval Office, said the legislation was “the first of what I hope will be a series of job packages that help to put people back to work all across America.”

The legislation “will provide tax cuts to small businesses that are willing to begin hiring right now, putting people back to work,” Obama said. “It’s also going to provide significant tax breaks to businesses for investing in their business, and so, hopefully, at a time when we’re starting to see an upswing in economic growth, that will help sustain it.”

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