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Democratic leaders used a Capitol Hill rally Wednesday to continue pushing the Senate to take a piecemeal approach to President Barack Obama’s jobs bill, even as the chamber struggled to finish work on a package of three spending bills.
“We are going to make sure there is a vote on our bill this week,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, referring to a $35 billion measure for states and localities to retain teachers and first responders that the Nevada Democrat wants to add to the minibus appropriations measure. “And to make sure that we do that, I will protect [myself] by filing cloture unless we can work something out.”
The aid measure is the first portion of Obama’s $447 billion jobs bill that Reid wants the Senate to take up.
But it is not expected to win the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster and not even all 53 Democrats are expected to back it. The bill would be paid for with a 0.5 percent tax on millionaires, which Republicans have called a populist ploy and not serious policy.
Reid blamed Republicans for obstructing the Democrats’ agenda and rooting for the economy to fail in order to hurt Obama’s re-election prospects.
They want to do “whatever they can do to make Barack Obama’s life miserable,” Reid said.
The rally was also attended by Vice President Joseph Biden, who asked voters to push Republicans to work with Democrats and vote for the teachers bill.
“This wasn’t designed to put any Republicans on the spot,” Biden said, adding that many Republicans have supported pieces of the jobs bill previously.
Biden’s comments come after the overall $447 billion jobs bill fell to a filibuster last week. His comments also come as Obama is wrapping up a bus tour touting his jobs plan in North Carolina and Virginia.
Now, “we are going to take up this legislation piece by piece,” Biden said.
But Republicans see the move as nakedly political — an effort to help Democrats in their re-election campaigns, including the president’s.
“The president proposes a stimulus bill, which he calls a jobs bill,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday on the floor. “Congress rejects it in a bipartisan way for very sensible and straightforward reasons.
“The president then goes on a bus tour to criticize Republicans for voting against this so-called jobs bill,” McConnell continued. “Democrat leaders consult with the White House on breaking the same bill into smaller pieces … identifying parts they know Republicans will oppose and adding on a tax hike just to make sure.