Updated: 4:05 p.m.
President Barack Obama on Thursday signed the $17.6 billion HIRE Act, a victory for Democrats trying to underscore their commitment to job creation.
The package includes a set of tax credits for small businesses and an extension of the Highway Trust Fund. The bill is the first in a series of proposals that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has lumped into a jobs agenda.
At the signing ceremony, Obama praised Republicans for joining with Democrats in sending him the jobs package on Wednesday, a move he said shows that some are “willing to break out of the partisan morass in Washington to help us take this forward-step for the American people.”
Several Members were invited to the signing, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and a number of Democrats being heavily courted for their votes on health care reform. They included Reps. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio).
Two Republicans, Reps. Anh “Joseph” Cao (La.) and Tim Murphy (Pa.), were also invited. Cao was the only Republican to vote for the House health care bill but has said he opposes the final proposal because of its language relating to abortion.