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Senate Democrats are looking to put President Barack Obama’s $447 billion jobs bill on the floor quickly in an effort to capitalize on divisions among Republicans.
“This is an issue that we’re treating with urgency and this bill will come up in the Senate as quickly as possible,” said one leadership aide. “We think it’s a bold, meaningful proposal that deserves an up-or-down vote.”
Democrats think they can message a likely defeat of the larger plan as GOP obstructionism, and then move on to plucking out smaller items from Obama’s plan, like the payroll tax cut for the middle class and businesses. Because the issue has already split the GOP, it might be harder for Republicans to block those kinds of smaller proposals.
However, Democrats want to give Obama time to sell his plan across the country and build momentum, aides said. Just this week, for example, the president will be in Ohio and North Carolina stumping for the bill.
In the meantime, the Senate will focus on keeping the government operating; Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) plans to spend this week trying to avoid shutdowns of the FAA and highway projects and next week trying to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government operating past the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year.
Republicans, meanwhile, sharpened their rhetoric after Obama went to the Rose Garden on Monday — flanked by veterans, teachers, firefighters and police officers — to introduce his bill.
“I’m sending this bill to Congress today, and they ought to pass it immediately,” Obama said.
The GOP on Monday seized on a briefing by White House budget director Jacob Lew that the administration would pay for the plan with $467 billion in new tax revenue over the next decade, largely by limiting deductions for the wealthy.
“It would be fair to say this tax increase on job creators is the kind of proposal both parties have opposed in the past,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). “We remain eager to work together on ways to support job growth, but this proposal doesn’t appear to have been offered in that bipartisan spirit.”
And House Majority Leader Eric Cantor batted away the possibility of the House allowing any tax increases or new stimulus-style spending.
“Anything that’s akin to a stimulus bill, I think, is not going to be acceptable to the American people,” the Virginia Republican told reporters Monday when asked about spending for construction projects outlined in Obama’s plan.