President Barack Obama held a news conference at the White House today to pressure Congress to back his $447 billion jobs package, but Senate Democrats plan to keep blocking a vote on it until next week.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced his intention to offer the bill today under a gambit requiring a two-thirds vote to suspend Senate rules and take up the measure. Democrats are expected to block McConnell's effort at a straight-up vote on the bill, but Republicans sought to use the procedural vote as a proxy for the president's package.
"As Sen. Reid has said, we will vote on President Obama's jobs plan early next week," said Adam Jentleson, spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). "We're not going to suspend the rules to allow the Republicans to pull a political stunt."
McConnell wants to vote on the original text of Obama's plan, not on Reid's version, which replaced Obama's tax hikes on various industries with a 5.6 percent surtax on millionaires.
McConnell is expected to force a procedural vote to suspend cloture on the pending China currency bill. If the earlier vote to invoke cloture, or beat back a filibuster, on the currency bill were suspended, McConnell would be permitted to offer an amendment that contained the original text of Obama's jobs plan.
A two-thirds vote would be required to pull off the procedural maneuver to suspend cloture, a threshold that almost certainly will not be broken. However, by forcing even a procedural vote on the text of Obama's bill as the amendment, Republicans are hoping to show there is not enough support for the measure to pass it.
Democrats plan to push next week for a vote on Reid's altered jobs bill. Reid changed the bill to tax millionaires to pay for the proposal in an effort to unite Democrats, some of whom objected to eliminating tax breaks on oil companies or on people making more than $250,000 a year.
Obama has also summoned Senate Democratic leaders to the White House for a 5:30 p.m. meeting on the jobs bill.
In his press conference, Obama noted that economists have said that growth and jobs will increase with his package and could falter without it — and warned in particular of economic problems in Europe as having the potential to send the United States into another downturn.
"People really need help right now. Our economy really needs a jolt right now," Obama said, calling 9 percent unemployment an "emergency" and challenging Senators to explain why they oppose each individual piece of his plan.
He said Republicans should love this plan.
"This jobs bill would cut taxes for virtually every worker or small-business owner in America," Obama said.
Asked why he has been going across the country instead of reaching out to the GOP — Obama said he keeps getting rebuffed by Republicans who prefer to score political points.
"That's been true over the past two and a half years," he said.