Jobs Data Illustrates Political Division on Capitol Hill

Nov 4, 2011 12:51pm

As unemployment continues to hover around 9 percent for the 28th straight month, House Speaker John Boehner and his GOP leadership team piled pressure on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today by demanding that he begin consideration on a slate of House-passed bills that Republicans believe would encourage job growth.

“Today’s job report underscores the need for immediate action on the more than 15 bipartisan House-passed jobs bills that are gathering dust in the Democrat-controlled Senate,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “There’s no reason — not one — for Senate Democrats to delay action on these bills any longer.”

This morning the Labor department announced that the unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a percentage point from 9.1 percent to 9 percent, while the economy added just 80,000 jobs during October.

“I urge the president to call on Senate Democrats to bring these common-sense bills to a vote in the Senate,” he added. “As long as these bills are stalled in the Senate, I think it’s unacceptable for the White House to be anything less than 100 percent engaged in the legislative process.”

Majority Leader Eric Cantor told reporters that “unemployment at 9 percent is unacceptable” and “too high,” and he joined the speaker in calling for the Senate to act.

“We’re here today again trying to tell Harry Reid, Please join us and bring these measures to the floor for an up-or-down vote. If they don’t pass, fine,” Cantor, R-Va., said. “Harry Reid, just allow … these bills an up-or-down vote in the Senate so the people can see that Washington is actually working for their interest and to create jobs.”

“I don’t know what Harry Reid needs to even allow it to come to the floor, but the American people can’t wait, small business can’t wait, and the jobs report shows one more time America is frustrated at what’s happening in the Senate,” echoed Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the dismal report “reaffirms the urgency of this task: too many Americans remain out of work” and she repeated her call for the super committee to “strive for a big, bold and balanced plan.”

“After more than 300 days in the majority, Republicans have failed to enact a jobs agenda -and Americans can’t wait any longer for us to act,” Pelosi, D-Calif., wrote in a statement. “Democrats are committed to creating jobs, building ladders of opportunity for our families, workers, and small businesses, and reigniting the American dream for all.”

While President Obama continues his campaign to press Congress to pass his jobs proposal, known as the American Jobs Act, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the co-chair of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, placed the blame for the anemic economic recovery at the doorstep of the White House.

“No, we cannot wait,” Hensarling, R-Texas, said. “This isn’t about the president’s personality. It’s not about politics. It’s about his policies. His policies do not work.”

Asked whether he is becoming nervous that the super committee could fail to meet its mandate to slice $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade, Hensarling said he and the Democratic co-chair Sen. Patty Murray “continue to negotiate” and he is optimistic the committee will reach an agreement soon.

“I haven’t changed my position from day one. I’ve approached this process with high hopes and tempered expectations. I continue to have high hopes and tempered expectations,” Hensarling said. “When we have something to announce, you may not be the first people to hear it, but I assure you, you will hear something soon.”

Still, Boehner acknowledged the difficulty in reaching a consensus, but he pledged to move forward on the GOP’s job creation agenda despite the strategy of the Senate.

“Our Founders gave us this giant body in the middle of our government called the Congress — 535 people. It’s hard for everybody to get along,” Boehner said. “On the House side, we’ve worked together, Democrats and Republicans, to try to do the right thing every day, and we’re going to continue to do it.”

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