Senate Republicans sought Tuesday to force an immediate vote on President Obama's jobs plan in a ploy reacting to the President's nationwide barnstorm to push for a vote “right away” on the measure.
Holding a copy of the President's plan on the Senate floor this afternoon, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell moved to vote this week on the bill that he dubbed "Stimulus II." McConnell said he was responding to calls from the White House, including the president today, to hold a vote now.
"I think he's entitled to a vote. It won't surprise anyone to know I don't think it's a good approach, a way that's unlikely to create jobs, but he's asked for a vote and I think we ought to accommodate the president of the United States on a matter that he has been speaking about frequently over the last few weeks and give him his vote," McConnell said.
It was a maneuver by McConnell to try to set up a politically embarrassing vote for Democrats; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) hasn't yet secured the support of his full caucus of the jobs bill, partially because of some of the measures used to finance the $447 billion price tag.
Because of that, Reid promptly objected to holding a vote now, arguing there was other legislation pending before the Senate.
"We need to move to this right away. There is no question about that. But to tack this onto the China currency manipulation legislation is nothing more than a political stunt. We all know that," he said.
The two party leaders then debated the merits of an immediate vote on the package, for which Obama pressed during a trip this afternoon to Dallas. In that speech, Obama excoriated House GOP Leader Eric Cantor for refusing an up-or-down vote on the whole jobs package. Cantor has said he would allow individual votes on aspects of the bill that Republicans find palatable.
"Mr. President, I think my good friend's problem here and I sympathize with him is there's bipartisan opposition to the President's proposal," McConnell said.
Reid shot back: "Mr. President, I didn't want to hear my friend say that. I didn't want to get into a long dissertation about bipartisan opposition. There's 53 of us. A majority of Democrats will support the President's jobs bill."
Reid has promised to move to the president's bill later this month, and he indicated at a reporter stakeout today that he was working on gaining support of wavering Democrats by altering the pay-fors that the president had suggested.
"There are a wide range of things that we're looking at, because the only objections I've heard from my caucus on the president's jobs bill is dealing with the pay-fors. So we're resolving that issue as we speak," he said.
The president has proposed limits on itemized deductions and tax exemptions for individuals who earn over $200,000 and families earning over $250,000 as the bulk of how he would pay for his jobs bill.