Obama sending jobs bill to Congress. How fast will lawmakers act?

In the Rose Garden, President Obama urged quick action on his jobs bill, which he said was being sent to Congress on Monday, and warned the GOP not to play politics at a time of need.

Larry Downing/Reuters
President Obama holds a copy of the 'American Jobs Act' he will send up to Congress later today for passage while standing next to Vice President Joe Biden in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on Monday, Sept.12. Obama urged lawmakers for quick passage of his Act.

President Obama on Monday said he would send his jobs bill to Capitol Hill within hours and urged lawmakers to consider it without delay.

“I am sending this to Congress today and they ought to pass it immediately,” Mr. Obama said in a sun-splashed Rose Garden appearance.

Obama said that many of the things in his legislation have been supported by both Republicans and Democrats in the past, and thus if the GOP balks at his measures the party will be playing politics at a time of great national need.

The president mentioned he had read a Washington Post article that quoted an anonymous Republican congressional aide as saying that it was not in the GOP’s interest to pass an Obama jobs bill at the moment.

“That’s the attitude in this town. Yes, we’ve been for these things before, but I don’t know why we’d be for them right now,” Obama said on Monday.

Will Congress take up the bill post haste? What’s the reaction been so far to the administration’s pressure?

Well, for a week now Republican congressional leaders have said they are eager to work with the president to identify areas with enough bipartisan support to pass. They continued to sound that theme on Monday.

“It is my hope that we will be able to work together to put in place the best ideas of both parties,” House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio said in a statement issued after Obama’s Monday appearance.

But that does not mean hearings start Tuesday morning. Speaker Boehner also noted in his statement that the first thing he will do is request that the bill be analyzed by the Congressional Budget Office for a separate opinion on the cost and effect of its various measures.

CBO probably will get this “scoring” of the jobs act done within days. But CBO analysts are likely to point out that Obama’s assertion that the bill is paid for depends upon the future action of the special joint committee now working on finding ways to reduce the federal deficit.

CBO, which considers the effect of proposed legislation only within the context of existing law, thus might well conclude that the bill is not paid for, yet.

It also remains to be seen whether CBO economists will agree with the Obama administration about how many jobs various provisions of the bill might create. Any wide discrepancy on a particular measure would give Republicans an argument as to why they don’t want that part of the bill to pass.

Obama has been pitching his bill as a White House-written package that Congress needs to consider as a whole. Framing the debate that way makes it easier for the president to seem in charge of the debate.

It also gives Democrats a simple talking point to try and rally their base.

“Read it, fight for it. ... Pass the President’s Jobs Plan,” says a Democratic National Committee ad set for airing in politically key states.

Republicans, for their part, are likely to want to break the bill into pieces, and move pieces they support – such as payroll tax reductions – while leaving behind pieces they don’t, such as a government bank to fund infrastructure projects.

“The record of the economic proposals enacted during the last Congress necessitates careful examination of the president’s latest plan as well as consideration of alternative measures that may more effectively support private-sector job creation,” Boehner said in his statement.

“Private-sector” is a key phrase in that above quote. It indicates that the GOP may oppose parts of Obama’s plan that are intended to prevent local governments from laying off teachers, police officers, and firefighters.

In the Rose Garden on Monday Obama was backed by an array of such government workers from around the country.

“This bill will keep cops on the beat and firefighters on call. So let’s pass this bill so that these men and women can continue protecting our neighborhoods like they do every single day,” said Obama.

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