A top ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) unveiled a new $100 billion jobs bill Wednesday that will provide grants to local governments to save or create jobs.
Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, proposed a new stimulus bill that he argued should be paid for by deficit spending, and which could be attached to the Senate's jobs bill, pending the decision of House leaders.
"Our goal is to retain or create a million jobs," Miller said during an appearance on CNBC Wednesday morning. "There's some very serious concern that the small good news we're getting right now on the unemployment figures could be wiped out by what's going to happen in local governments if they don't get some assistance."
Miller's bill would make $100 billion in grants available to localities over the next two years in the form of grant programs for funds to save or create local jobs, or to create work-training programs for city workers.
The key House chairman said that while a decision would be made by leadership, he would prefer to see the program paid for by deficit spending, a potential violation of the pay-as-you-go, or pay-go, rules approved last month in Congress.
"I think this should be funded out of the deficit," Miller said on a conference call, framing his proposal as an extension of the Recovery Act. "We're not going to continue this deficit if we continue to lay people off."
Miller's bill will be the latest and maybe boldest jobs initiative Democrats will have undertaken over the past few months, during which they've moved several bills in order to spur job growth.
The Senate has encountered difficulty in passing large new jobs bills this year, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) opting to pare down some packages in order to win GOP support.
Miller left the door open to his $100 billion plan being attached to the Senate's much smaller, $15 billion package.
"That's really a decision for the leadership. And that negotiation is ongoing," he said. "This is a big bill because this is a big problem. I don't think you can nickel-and-dime this solution."
Democrats' different jobs bills have had varying levels of success in winning bipartisan support. Miller seemed unsure as to whether his proposal could garner bipartisan support.
"Well, we'll see," he said on CNBC when asked if Republicans would end up supporting the legislation.
Republicans in the House and the Senate were quick on Wednesday to fire back at Miller's proposals.
“When will Democrats learn? The American people don’t want more wasteful Washington spending that expands government at the expense of small businesses," said Kevin Smith, a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio). "They want Congress to focus on long-term economic growth by helping small businesses create jobs.”
"If Democrats plan to break their own pay-go rules again, not only will they solidify their position as the most hypocritical majority in a generation, but they’ll also be laughed out of office by every American who’s concerned about our rising national debt," a Senate GOP aide chimed in.
This story was first posted at 10:32 a.m., and updated at 11:52 a.m. and 2:54 p.m.