Updated: 8:40 p.m.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sought to vote today on President Barack Obama’s $447 billion jobs package in hopes of killing it quickly.
“The president is entitled to know where the Senate stands on his proposal,” McConnell said, holding up a copy of the plan on the Senate floor. McConnell told reporters he hopes the Senate rejects the package, but noted that Obama has been barnstorming across the country asking for an immediate vote. McConnell was prepared to offer the president’s plan as an amendment to a China currency manipulation bill now on the Senate floor, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) moved quickly to block that, using a procedural maneuver known as filling the amendment tree to prevent McConnell from offering the proposal.
Reid accused McConnell of playing partisan games and mucking with the bipartisan bill to crack down on Chinese currency manipulation. If Reid does not allow amendments to the currency bill, it may lose its bipartisan backing and fail on the Senate floor.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney called McConnell’s actions a “political stunt,” according to a White House transcript.
“When Senator Reid called that bluff and said, let’s schedule it right after the China bill, the Senate Minority Leader objected,” Carney told reporters traveling with the president on Air Force One to a campaign event in St. Louis. “And all that tells us is it was a very disingenuous attempt to draw attention away from the fact that this President is calling on members of Congress, both houses, to act on jobs and the economy.”
Reid told reporters that he intends to bring up the jobs bill later in the month, possibly with modifications to how it is paid for.
Reid said that the only way Obama’s bill won’t pass is if Republicans refuse to vote for it.
The tax increases proposed by Obama have split Democrats, and leadership is now considering altering the proposal to institute a millionaire tax instead, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said after the weekly party lunches.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said it would also make sense to use savings from winding down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to pay for jobs here.
“Let’s start spending some of that money at home,” he said.