President Obama returned from vacation on Monday to blast Senate Republicans for blocking small-business legislation.
Obama said the GOP opposition is “directly detrimental to our economic growth.”
Obama and Democrats have been pushing the measure for months, but the president suggested a new urgency in his televised comments from the Rose Garden, which followed a meeting with his economic team.
The economic recovery is sputtering, and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke last week pledged the central bank would do all that it could to prevent the economy from sliding back into recession.
Growth in the second quarter was downgraded to an anemic 1.6 percent last week, and a new jobs report on Friday is expected to show little job growth.
Obama is under intense pressure from his own party to focus on the economy and jobs, even during a week that is sure to be dominated by foreign policy. Obama is scheduled to address the country from the Oval Office Tuesday evening about the end of combat operations in Iraq, and the administration is hosting Middle East peace talks that begin later this week.
In his remarks, Obama said he and his economic team are working to identify additional measure that could promote economic growth and hiring in the short term, including the extension of tax cuts for the middle class, increasing investment in clean energy and research and development, additional infrastructure spending and further tax cuts for businesses that would encourage them to put their capital in the U.S.
Obama said he would address those proposals in further detail in the coming weeks, and then pressed his case for the small business bill.
The president called for bipartisan support to launch a “full-scale attack” on helping the economy recover, and said the small-business lending and tax cuts bill should be Congress's first order of business when they return.
The remarks, Obama’s first at the White House after a near two-week absence, suggested Obama and his economic team are frustrated by the pace of the recovery, and by Senate Republicans who have filibustered the small-business bill.
Obama excoriated Senate Republicans for not allowing a vote on the measure, which Democrats had hoped to send to the president’s desk before the August recess.
He said his administration “remains focused every single day” on improving the economy, and complained that the small-business bill has "been languishing in the Senate for months."
Republicans have seized on the stumbling recovery to call for change in this fall’s midterm elections, when they hope to re-take the House and possibly the Senate.
House GOP leader John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerRift widens between business groups and House GOP Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Debt ceiling games endanger US fiscal credibility — again MORE (Ohio), in a statement released before Obama’s remarks, reiterated his call for Obama to fire his economic team. He and other Republicans have focused their recent arguments on Obama’s proposal to allow tax cuts for the wealthiest taxpayers to expire at the end of this year, something the GOP argues will hurt small businesses.
This story was updated at 2:43 p.m.