By Sam Youngman and Russell Berman - 10/04/11 12:09 AM EDT
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Monday said President Obama’s jobs package is dead, rejecting the president’s demand hours earlier that Congress move his legislation by the end of the month.
Cantor said the House would not bring up the president’s American Jobs Act for a vote as a whole, but by the end of the month would move forward with elements supported by GOP leaders, including three pending trade agreements and a reduction in the withholding tax for businesses.
“The president continues to say, ‘Pass my bill in its entirety.’ As I’ve said from the outset, the all-or-nothing approach is just unacceptable,” Cantor told reporters Monday.
Asked directly if the bill was dead as a comprehensive package, Cantor replied, “Yes.”
Cantor’s move came as the White House undertook an aggressive day of selling its package and blaming the GOP over the economy.
During remarks on the Senate floor on Monday, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the upper chamber will take up the bill this month.
Obama, who has taken to traveling around the country in an effort to sell his $447 billion plan, said he expected the Senate to vote on the measure before the end of October.
Senior administration officials said earlier on Monday that Obama would focus his attention and efforts on the American Jobs Act for the rest of the year if necessary, hammering Republicans throughout the country if they fail to pass the bill.
Obama is scheduled to travel to Texas on Tuesday to continue his full-court press on the jobs bill.
The White House said its package enjoys the support of 95 percent of Democrats and that by the end of the year it will be clear to voters that Obama and his party are trying to work for more jobs while Republicans are obstructing progress.
A number of congressional Democrats have yet to endorse the bill, however, and Cantor needled the president on that point Monday. “I think from a purely practical standpoint, the president’s got some whipping to do on his own side of the aisle,” the majority leader said.
After Cantor rejected the package, Obama used an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos to say the Republican needs to explain why he’s opposed to parts of the bill.
“What he needs to do is tell us exactly what he’s for,” Obama said.
White House press secretary Jay Carney repeated that Obama will sign whatever components are passed, while keeping the pressure on Republicans to send him the full package.
Carney and other administration officials hinted that Obama will not be seeking negotiations with leaders, as he did during the debt-ceiling debate.
One official said Obama does not believe meaningful jobs legislation can be accomplished through meetings and negotiations with congressional leaders, and hinted there will be no repeat of the breakdown over a “grand bargain” to reduce deficits with entitlement reforms and tax hikes.
“What we don’t see the need to do is to negotiate away aspects of the bill that are not controversial, are broadly supported by the American public, broadly supported by Democrats and Republicans, before there’s a chance to vote on the entire bill,” Carney said.
“And so we look forward to the Senate taking it up, as the Senate majority leader has said it will, and as the president referred to earlier today. And then we hope that Congress as a whole, the House as well, will begin to act on it.”
The White House has worked since the summer debt-ceiling debacle, which hurt both parties, to put Obama on offense on the jobs issue.
Since unveiling the plan, Obama has tried to fire up supporters and isolate the GOP as being against a paid-for jobs plan.
Republicans argue that Obama’s plan is paid for with gimmicky accounting and tax hikes on small businesses and jobs creators.
The White House has tried to go on offense by criticizing Republicans for blocking an extension and deepening of the payroll tax cut, which was first introduced as part of a late 2010 deal to extend the Bush tax rates.
“[I]f you support tax cuts for individual working Americans — 150 million Americans, for example, would be affected and have more money in their pockets because of the payroll tax cut — do you also support — why don’t you, if you don’t, support tax cuts for small businesses or money to put construction workers back to work rebuilding highways or schools, bridges, or money to put laid-off teachers back to work?” Carney said.
Cantor reiterated that the House would move quickly to approve trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea that the White House officially submitted for ratification Monday.
Cantor said the House would also pass legislation to scrap a 3 percent withholding tax on businesses, as well as to reduce certain regulations and improve access to capital for businesses. He said those measures were all items the administration has supported.
“We’re going to continue to look for ways to find common areas that we can improve the economy on together,” Cantor said.
— Posted at 2 p.m. and updated at 8:09 p.m.