Several Democratic Senators, including Sen. Mary Landrieu, were unaware of which items are on the president's to-do list and expressed little interest in tackling them in the near future.
“I don’t have a copy of it; I’m sure my staff does,” said Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), when asked when the Senate might get to it.
“We’ve got June, July. We’ve got some time. What time frame did he put on that to-do list?”
When told the president said the to-do list could be done “now,” Casey joked, “Now is a very expansive term. It’s not even the summer yet.“
“Didn’t we just try to move on student loans. Wasn’t that on his list?” asked Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.).
No, that’s a separate priority.
“You’d have to ask Harry Reid” why the list hasn’t moved, Levin said.
In addition to the tax cut, Obama wants Congress to let “underwater” homeowners who have made their payments on time to be able to refinance their mortgages; extend tax credits for renewable energy; transfer tax breaks from companies that ship jobs overseas to companies that bring them back homeand create a “Veterans Jobs Corps.”
The business tax cut would provide a credit to small companies that increase their payroll through hiring or salary increases in some circumstances. It would also extend a current credit for business expensing of equipment.
“The fact of life is none of us work for the president,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “What you see is the Senate’s legislative agenda being driven by the Senate, not by the White House. The president’s pretty much irrelevant, because he’s basically given up on governing and is campaigning.”
“I think if the president wanted to get some stuff done, he could call up [on] the phone and tell the Majority Leader to move ahead on any number of bills,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), mentioning doing a budget and a tax reform package.
The White House said it is trying to get bills on the schedule.
“We’re actively working with the leadership to schedule votes on Congress’ to-do list over the next few weeks,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. “The fact that some Members of Congress can’t keep track of five simple, bipartisan things they could do — right now — to help the middle class and strengthen the economy says more about their priorities than it does about the president’s.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.