House Republicans are using the February unemployment figures to renew calls on Democrats to scrap their health care reform bill and focus on jobs.
"Today's jobs report is the latest warning that the threat of oppressive regulations and health care mandates from Washington, as well as skyrocketing deficits and tax increases, are actively preventing job creation," Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said in a statement. "Instead of trying to ram through a health care overhaul that we can't afford and that a majority of Americans don't support, the President and Speaker Pelosi should focus on getting our fiscal house in order and getting Americans back to work."
The Department of Labor announced Friday morning the unemployment rate held steady in February at 9.7 percent.
The number of jobs lost remained largely unchanged, with 36,000 nonfarm positions cut last month.
Several Republicans mocked the report's claim that last month's severe winter weather could have played a role in the stagnant numbers.
"Mother Nature is a force to be reckoned with, but it's the blizzard of higher taxes, wasteful spending, and reckless borrowing coming out of Washington that's destroying jobs in this country," Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a release. "President Obama and Democratic leaders will come out of the woodwork today armed with rehashed promises to do better, but their top and seemingly only priority remains this unpopular, unaffordable government takeover of health care."
Rep. Kevin Brady (Texas), the top House Republican on the Joint Economic Committee, said: "A blizzard of bad policy proposals — higher taxes, health care mandates and dangerous levels of debt — is the real reason businesses are delaying key investment and hiring decisions."
House Democratic leaders, however, argued that the jobless numbers show that their policies were beginning to work.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) argued that while the figures are disappointing, they suggest the policies implemented by Democrats and the Obama administration have successfully slowed the economic free fall.
"A year ago, America shed more than 700,000 jobs in February; this February, we lost 36,000," Hoyer said in a statement. "It's widely acknowledged that this number would have been better except for the snowstorms that hit the Northeast last month."
Hoyer said Congress will continue to focus on legislation that encourages job creation such as the $17.8 billion jobs package that narrowly passed the House on Thursday.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the report "cautious evidence" that the economy is beginning to rebound.
"The report is that America's businesses are gaining confidence and that the Recovery Act continues to restore strength in key sectors of our economy," Pelosi said. "To keep the recovery moving in the right direction on behalf of all Americans, we must continue to invest wisely and act with fiscal discipline."