Pressure from Senate Democrats to quickly move to a piece of President Barack Obama’s jobs bill could complicate passage of a package of three spending bills currently on the floor.
“We’ll see,” said a Senate GOP aide of whether the spending bill could get caught in the partisan fight over a measure aimed at job creation. The aide noted that the priority last week was more squarely on considering and passing the appropriations bills.
With Senate Democrats eager to wrap up the spending measures as soon as possible, Republicans are concerned that they will not be given adequate opportunity to get votes on amendments. However, they remain cautiously hopeful that they will get their due.
The GOP aide’s comments come after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Monday that after clearing the spending package, the Senate will move to provide $35 billion in aid for cities and counties to keep teachers, firefighters and police on the job.
The proposal is part of Obama’s $447 billion jobs bill and would save a total of about 400,000 jobs, including roughly 300,000 teaching positions, according to Reid.
“We cannot wait to create jobs,” Reid said on a conference call with reporters Monday. “That is why I will bring this bill up for a vote as soon as possible.
“There is no reason we cannot finish the appropriations bills before the end of the week and have a vote on this jobs bill,” Reid continued. “I am happy to keep the Senate in session as long as needed to make sure we get a vote on this jobs bill.”
The threat of losing part of next week’s scheduled recess to what most Republicans see as a political vote on the president’s agenda could affect their willingness to cooperate on the appropriations bill.
In a move that is likely to further irritate Republicans, the teachers’ jobs bill will be paid for with a portion of the tax on millionaires that Senate Democrats have proposed to pay for the entire $447 billion package.
Democrats lost a vote on that bigger package last week, largely because Republicans banded together to prevent it from coming to the floor.
Senate Democrats and the president Monday sharpened attacks on Republican “obstructionism” as they outlined plans to split Obama’s billion jobs bill into several chunks, despite the fact that the measures will not likely get out of the Senate.
“We are going to break up my jobs bill; maybe they just couldn’t understand the whole thing all at once,” Obama said in a speech Monday in Asheville, N.C., where he began a three-day bus tour. “So we are going to break it up into bite-sized pieces, so they can take a thoughtful approach to this legislation.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.