House Republicans are honing their jobs message — crafting hard-to-oppose, small-bore bills, shipping them to the Senate and daring Democrats and the White House to take up the mantle of obstructionism.
The strategy paid off last week, with the White House signing on to a Republican bill eliminating a 3 percent tax withholding requirement for government contractors — a rare bill that appears likely to zoom to the president’s desk.
The quick White House acquiescence came as a bit of a surprise to House and Senate Democrats, some of whom fear the president’s $447 billion jobs package will be sliced and diced to the GOP’s liking with Democratic priorities left on the cutting-room floor.
But unlike many past efforts by both parties this year, the withholding bill appeared devised to become law, marrying a piece of President Barack Obama’s jobs package with a piece of his deficit reduction plan.
Legislating, instead of passing messaging bills or holding show votes, could be the new path forward, at least for now. That’s assuming House leaders can draft more pieces like the withholding bill and string together some victories.
“That’s the question: Are there a lot of other things like this?” asked Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.). “There’s no question there’s a hunger to do things that get all the way to the finish line.”
Republican leaders have ramped up calls on the Senate to take up the “Forgotten 15” bills they have already passed that they say would create jobs, but few of those have much of a shot at becoming law.
Still, they used the list and the success on the withholding bill — it passed 405-16 — to parry the White House rollout of its “We Can’t Wait” message that blasts the GOP for blocking the larger jobs package and offers up a host of administrative actions aimed at producing jobs without Congress.
House Republicans are hoping for a similar result this week.
“If the president wants to do something meaningful to create jobs, he can start by working with Republicans and actually engaging in the legislative process,” said Brendan Buck, spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). “But we can’t wait for him, so Republicans are going to pass and send to the Democrat-run Senate two more job-creating bills aimed at helping small businesses expand and hire.”
The two bills would reduce regulations for some small businesses and make it easier to access credit, Republicans said — items Obama mentioned in his jobs speech.
Republicans said they’ve been open to working with the president for months now.
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.