White House accuses McConnell of ‘political stunt’ with jobs bill maneuver

The White House on Tuesday blasted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for what it said was a political stunt on President Obama’s jobs bill.

McConnell had sought to highlight Democratic opposition to the legislation calling it up for a vote as an amendment to a measure the Senate is debating that hits China for currency manipulation.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) blocked the action, giving Republicans a chance to blame Democrats for holding up a vote on the jobs bill. They also accused Obama of being disingenuous in portraying Republicans as obstructionist.

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Several Democrats oppose tax hikes Obama would use to pay for his $447 billion jobs bill, and it is unclear whether the legislation could win a majority vote in the Senate. Democratic leaders have acknowledged the bill likely needs to be changed to secure passage.

Still, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Reid had called McConnell’s bluff by blocking a vote on the president’s legislation.

He visited the press cabin aboard Air Force One to make his argument that what McConnell did “was a political stunt, essentially, by the Senate Minority Leader, to attach the jobs bill to the China bill without debate.”

“When Sen. Reid called that bluff and said, let’s schedule it right after the China bill, the Senate Minority Leader objected,” Carney said. “And all that tells us is it was a very disingenuous attempt to draw attention away from the fact that this president is calling on members of Congress, both houses, to act on jobs and the economy.”

Carney also pointed to McConnell's one-time declaration that his top priority was defeating Obama.


“I would simply point out that this is coming from a senator who has on the record stated that his number-one priority as the Republican leader in the Senate is not the economy, not jobs, but to defeat President Obama,” Carney said.

When Carney was asked if Reid would schedule a vote after the China legislation, Carney demurred, saying that he would leave it to Reid to schedule a vote.

“That’s the urgent priority that most Americans feel right now,” Carney said. “What they recoil from is the kind of gamesmanship that we saw today, this afternoon, in the Senate.”