Signaling the need for a legislative course correction, White House officials told reporters in a recent conference call that President Obama will definitely push Congress to pass his jobs initiative … by breaking it up into individual pieces.
The first piece will focus on a $35 billion infusion of cash that would help state and local governments avoid massive cop, teacher and firefighter layoffs.
As you may already know, the price tag of the initiative is estimated at $447 billion.
That famous big black bus seen cruising through Iowa and Illinois during August will also take the President to communities in North Carolina and Virginia this week as he makes the pitch for his American Jobs Act. Additionally, first lady Michelle Obama will announce an initiative encouraging companies to hire Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. That announcement will be made at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia, this week.
The President’s jobs bill failed last week in the Senate after a filibuster by chamber Republicans led by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY). The legislation failed to get the 60 vote margin needed to continue full debate on the bill.
On the House side, however, Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor (D-VA) has not scheduled a vote and has indicated no plans to do so.
Piling on the pressure, the President will visit Cantor’s district during that highly-anticipated bus trip this week. Incidentally, the White House and several members of the Democratic leadership have asked Cantor and Speaker John Boehner to bring the jobs bill to a vote. When Majority Leader Cantor claimed on a Sunday talk show that he and President Obama should “work together” and find “common ground” on issues facing the U.S. economy, it mirrored the same words said after Congress returned from a month long August recess.
But, those claims have gone unfulfilled as Congressional gridlock continues and the unemployment rate remains at 9% overall and 16% among African Americans. Neither House Republicans nor Leader Cantor have offered specific legislation aimed directly at creating jobs. Unless Republicans have somehow figured out some direct correlation between the elimination of bureaucratic red-tape and employment opportunities.
A reporter on the conference call asked White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest and policy adviser Jason Furman if the White House was expecting Congress to move the legislation. Would there be a specific bill pushing the $35 billion state and local piece the President plans to focus on. “I would refer you to the folks in Speaker Boehner’s office and the folks in Leader Reid’s office on the procedure they will decide to take… the President’s view is that they should take it up this week,” Earnest said.
In the meantime, the President will visit a county in North Carolina where he received only received 30% of the vote in 2008. When asked whether President Obama would get a good hearing there Earnest put on his best emphatic “yes” and said that ” … the benefit of the bus tour is that it gives the President the opportunity to spend more time in the community and talk to the local officials there… and talk with them more directly.”
The House returns the week of October 24th after a week-long recess. White House advisers pointed out that North Carolina, where the President will make at least four stops, stands to receive $900 million that would create 14,000 jobs as a result of money from the President’s jobs plan.
Two Administration officials, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan, have visited Virginia in the last two weeks.