Rival Democratic and Republican jobs bills failed in the Senate on Thursday, the latest sign of the partisan gridlock gripping Washington as Americans look for relief from high unemployment and a sagging economy.

The widely anticipated defeat of the Democrats’ Rebuild America Jobs Act, which would have provided $60 billion for transportation infrastructure projects, marked the third blow to President Barack Obama’s jobs agenda. His sweeping $447 billion jobs package was blocked by all Republicans and two Democrats last month, while a smaller piece of that legislation — $35 billion to pay the salaries of teachers, cops and firefighters — suffered the same fate.

Senate Democrats on Thursday came up nine votes short of the 60 needed to advance their infrastructure bill past a key procedural hurdle. The vote was 51-49, with all Republicans and two members of the Democratic caucus — Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) — voting no.

Republicans have dismissed the jobs bills as “more failed stimulus” and object to the tax hikes on millionaires Democrats have proposed to pay for the spending. But Democrats have hammered the GOP for obstructing Obama’s jobs effort and believe voters will punish Republicans in 2012 for siding with the rich over middle-class Americans.

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