WH Backs GOP Jobs Bill, Senate Dems Balk

by Andrew Stiles

House Republicans will vote Thursday on a provision included in President Obama’s jobs package. The House bill would eliminate a much-maligned provision allowing federal and local agencies to withhold 3 percent of payments to government contractors. It would be paid for using a provision from the president’s most recent deficit package that would change the way income is calculated to determine eligibility for Medicare, as well as the new health-care exchanges created by Obamacare.

“We need to move past our differences and come together to create an environment for economic growth and job creation,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) said in a statement. “I agree with President Obama that we can’t wait — and the House isn’t waiting.”

On Tuesday, the White House announced its support of the House bill. In an official statement of policy, the administration said the measure “would reduce a burden on government contractors who otherwise comply with their tax obligations, particularly small businesses.”

“We support working with them to get that done, and we believe we can,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney. “The current pay-for in the House version is something we can support.”

Last week, the Senate narrowly defeated a similar measure introduced by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.). While ten Democrats supported McConnell’s bill, the majority balked at the proposed offset, which would have involved rescinding about $30 billion in unobligated funds from federal agencies, something Democrats have supported in the past.

Assuming the bill passes the House, it remains to be seen what Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) will do. Senate Democrats certainty seemed more concerned with scoring political points — by attaching a “millionaire’s tax” to every jobs vote — than actually passing legislation. A Democratic leadership aide told Roll Call, “We are still working out a path forward.”