As President Obama repeatedly calls for Congress to “pass this bill,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced that he’d like to give the president what he wants: an immediate vote on the jobs bill.
Yes, you read that right.
McConnell announced Tuesday afternoon that he would propose a vote on the president’s jobs bill as it stands right now in its entirely, and would try to push it into the debate on the Chinese currency bill that is currently under way on the Senate floor.
“I agree with the president,” McConnell said Tuesday. ”I think he’s entitled to a vote on his jobs bill. The suggestion that Senate Republicans are not interested in voting on his jobs bill is not true. I think he’s entitled to a vote. … I think we ought to accommodate the president of the United States on a matter that he has been speaking about frequently over the last few weeks and give him his vote.”
The move was political in nature, attempting to highlight that the American Jobs Act does not have support in Congress. Many Senate Democrats have reservations about the president’s bill as a whole and have suggested that a piecemeal approach, breaking the bill into parts, would be the only way to get it passed in the Senate.
“What the president’s asked for is not parts of it but the whole thing,” McConnell said today. ”He’s been critical of Congress for not giving him a vote. I think we should. I think he’s entitled to know where the Senate stands on his proposal in its entirety, and that’s why I hope that the majority leader will allow this vote to occur.”
It was a no-go from the majority leader, who didn’t take the bait and ultimately used a set of procedural rules to block McConnell’s request for a vote on the full jobs bill, keeping it on the back burner for a while longer.
“I’ve said I’m going to bring up the president’s bill,” Reid said in response, adding that that “right away” in the president’s mantra is a “relative term.”
“We’re going to do it this work period. And I’m disappointed that Sen. McConnell would try to play some kind of games with this important legislation,” Reid said curtly.
The procedural jockeying played out in a testy exchange between McConnell and Reid on the Senate floor in which both sides tried to get the upper hand.
McConnell argued that Reid’s blocking the vote signaled that the majority leader did not have the support within his caucus that he and the president would like and need to pass the bill.
“There is bipartisan opposition to this, and we’ll discuss at what point the majority leader is comfortable with going forward with this proposal,” McConnell said. “My only reason for offering it today was to respond to the question — to the president’s request that we vote on it, and we’re prepared to do that.”
Reid cast off McConnell’s move today as a stunt.
“To tack this onto the China currency manipulation legislation is nothing more than a political stunt,” Reid said, “We all know that. If we don’t, we should know. I’m telling everyone.”
The majority leader offered to put aside the China currency legislation the Sennte is now considering to take up the jobs bill and vote on a motion to proceed with the jobs bill, but McConnell objected to that in turn.