Senate Democrats kicked off their new drive for a jobs agenda by demanding that new stimulus measures be included in the bipartisan deficit reduction talks led by Vice President Joseph Biden.
Democrats aren't proposing a specific package, but are instead floating various ideas that they hope might get bipartisan support, including another payroll tax cut, infrastructure spending, job training programs, research and development, and clean energy incentives.
"This is a stimulus program," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the No. 3 Democrat, adding that a package would be paid for in the long run as part of the deficit reduction package.
"Let's say it costs $50 billion or $100 billion, we're going to have to make that up to keep with the president's goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years," Schumer said.
He said the payroll tax cut in particular would be hard for Republicans to oppose, even though a number of them have said they don't like the idea now.
"It's hard to figure out why Republicans would say, 'No,' for three reasons. It's pro-business, it's a tax cut, and ... many of them have supported it in the past. ... You ask yourself, 'Are they against all job creation?'"
Schumer said the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups across the country would get behind the idea, and the White House likes it.
"We're talking about policies that should be able to pass the Senate because they've received support from Democrats and Republicans in the past," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
Some might find their way into any Biden deal to cut the deficit and raise the debt ceiling, the leaders said. Other proposals could be acted on later this year, they added.
Reid also said he is instructing his committee chairmen to present bipartisan jobs proposals to him by Aug. 1.
"We are making 'Jobs First' our agenda for the rest of the year," Schumer said. "That's what the public is demanding."
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.