House Democratic leaders are already writing off President Barack Obama’s $50 billion infrastructure proposal, saying that GOP opposition will likely doom any major bills on tap before the November elections.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday that Democrats are looking at Obama’s proposal to pass “additional legislation to invest in infrastructure,” but he warned, “It will be very difficult to get a very broad agenda through … because Republicans’ obstructionism has, in effect, not allowed us to do some of the job-creating actions that we want.”
The most likely scenario over the coming weeks is action on a continuing resolution to keep the government funded past the end of the fiscal year, along with a continued push for passage of the small-business jobs bill that has stalled amid Senate GOP opposition, Hoyer said during an AFL-CIO conference call.
Meanwhile, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) signaled that Democrats could take on Obama’s $50 billion package, but not before the midterm elections.
“We’re not going to have the next stimulus package before us, before the election,” said Van Hollen, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and is assistant to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
During a Tuesday appearance on CNN’s “American Morning,” Van Hollen echoed Hoyer’s comment that the one issue that Democrats will be focused on “for sure” in the coming weeks is the small-business jobs bill. If the Senate passes the measure, the House would need to vote to send it to the president’s desk.
Van Hollen is the first Democratic leader to publicly refer to Obama’s $50 billion package as a “stimulus,” a term that Democrats worry could put off voters weary of more government spending. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs refused to answer questions about the proposal being a stimulus during a briefing Tuesday.
The package is not a stimulus because it is not “anywhere near the level” of the $787 billion stimulus passed in 2009, Gibbs said. Instead, it is a proposal with “a series of things that would help put our economy on a stronger road to recovery,” he said.
The president is scheduled to give a speech on the economy Wednesday in Cleveland, where he will discuss targeted proposals to keep the economy growing.