Obama Presses Hill Leaders to Come Together on Jobs

Posted February 9, 2010 at 10:46am

Updated: 1:02 p.m.

President Barack Obama on Tuesday pressed Congressional leaders to break through their partisan logjam and pass bills focused on his top priorities for 2010: job creation and deficit reduction.

“The American people are frustrated with the lack of progress on some key issues, and although parties are not going to agree on every single item, there should be some areas where we can agree,” Obama said moments before beginning a bipartisan meeting with House and Senate leaders.

Obama said “a good place to start” in forging bipartisanship is by moving on a jobs bill. He said he planned to “spend a lot of time in these discussions” hashing out how the House and Senate can pass legislation in the next few weeks that encourages small businesses to hire. Tuesday’s meeting is the first in a series of bipartisan monthly meetings that Obama pledged during his State of the Union address to hold.

The president also called for moving on legislation to rein in deficits and bring down the debt.

“Both parties have stated their concerns about it; I think both parties recognize that it’s going to take a lot of work. I have put forward the idea of a fiscal commission and I’m going to be discussing both with my Democratic and Republican colleagues how we can get that moving as quickly as possible,” Obama said.

Beyond jobs and spending, the president said he planned to press Senate leaders to work together to confirm his executive branch nominees that have stalled. Obama said he also planned to “spend some time listening” to what lawmakers in the meeting had on their minds.

House and Senate leaders in the meeting included Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Among the senior administration officials in the room were senior advisers Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag, and Council of Economic Advisers Chairwoman Christina Romer.