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White House blesses House GOP jobs bill

 

The White House has given Congress its blessing to pass a package of bills introduced by House Republicans designed to help small businesses, hinting that the package could pass overwhelmingly in the House when it's brought up for a vote on Wednesday.

A statement from the White House Office of Management and Budget said says that President Obama is "encouraged to see that there is common ground" between the bill, called the JOBS Act, and some of the proposed policies the president mentioned in his State of the Union speech earlier this year.

"The administration looks forward to continuing to work with the House and the Senate to craft legislation that facilitates capital formation and job growth for small businesses and provides appropriate investor protections," the statement says.

But House Democrats are taking issue with the branding of the bill, which they say has taken Democratic ideas and turned them Republican for the sake of politics. 

In one instance, according to House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Republicans took a bill introduced by a Democrat in 2011 (and which passed overwhelmingly) and simply slapped Rep. Ben Quayle's (R-AZ) name on it for the purposes of the JOBS act. Hoyer refers to the package as the "Just Old Bills" act, a play on the "JOBS" act acronym.

"These [bills] all try to deal with small businesses that are trying to expand," Hoyer said, "Good pieces of legislation but not a jobs bill."

It's clear that Democrats are working to soften the blow of what could be a legislative win for Republicans if the JOBS act does, in fact, pass and get signed into law.  Democrats fear that if they pass a Republican bill named the "JOBS Act" they will no longer be able to use one of their favorite hit line: "400 days without a jobs bill in the Republican House".

"Just because you regurgitate a few bills and package them together, even though we've already passed them out doesn't mean you have a jobs agenda," Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra (D-CA) told reporters today before his caucus's weekly meeting. 

"I think most Americans have been waiting quite some time, over 450 days now, for the Republicans in the Congress, using their leadership capacity, to give us a jobs agenda -- a true jobs agenda," Becerra said.

But the JOBS Act has an uncertain fate in the Senate, where a number of the bills included in the package have been waiting for a vote for -- at times -- months. Incorporated into the JOBS Act are six bills, four of which have already passed through the House with over 400 votes each, but have failed to be introduced in the Democratic-held Senate.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who acts as the lead vote-counter for House Republicans, hopes Obama's support will push the Senate to bring up the package once it's made it through the House. 

"I think the climate is a little different," McCarthy told reporters, "Hopefully, attitudes are a little different. And I believe maybe the attention has been based upon the Senate not doing anything doesn't bode well for those in the Senate."

It's a line that House Republicans have repeated over and again, but this time it might just work. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has alluded to the idea that Senate Democrats may introduce their own version of the JOBS Act soon, but also has not foreclosed on the option of passing the House bill, possibly with a tweak or two. 

"The president, I've met with him," Reid told reporters today, "He said he'd likely work to get something done on a bipartisan basis. We're gonna see what we can do in that regard."