House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday urged House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to back swift action on the jobs plan outlined by President Obama in an address to a joint session of Congress.
But House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) noted on the House floor that lawmakers cannot act until the White House sends the actual text of the proposal to Capitol Hill.
“I have asked each Democratic Ranking Member to urge his or her Committee chair to schedule immediate hearings and legislative action in legislation proposed by the President that lies within the jurisdiction of the Committee,” Pelosi wrote to Boehner on Friday. “It would be a sign of our unified commitment to acting quickly, and to acting in a bipartisan way, if you would similarly urge your chairmen to move expeditiously to pass this legislation and begin creating jobs, assisting small businesses, supporting veterans, and promoting economic growth.”
“You have my promise of support from Democrats in moving rapidly to consider the American Jobs Act and additional proposals that achieve our jobs and growth goals responsibly and effectively,” Pelosi added.
Obama said Thursday night that he would provide further details to Congress on his jobs plan – and how to pay for it – on Sept. 19. That means that Congress would have only one week in September to consider the proposal before it recess for a week-long break; after that, both chambers return to Washington in early October.
Cantor noted in a colloquy on the floor with Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) that Obama has not yet sent to Congress the text of the legislation, a point echoed by other House Republicans Friday afternoon.
“I think what we want to see at this point is a bill,” Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell.
Republican leaders on Friday generally continued to strike a tone of bipartisan cooperation in their responses to Obama’s jobs plan.
“I sincerely believe that the politics will take care of itself if we do the right policy,” Price said on MSNBC.
Other members, including Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) – who heads the National Republican Congressional Committee – were somewhat less enthusiastic.
“I have great respect for everybody in the Republican leadership,” Sessions told reporters at the Capitol. “I found what the president said to be out of balance. ... I’m a free-enterprise, American-dream guy, and I am not for anything that raises taxes.”
One area of the jobs plan on which Republicans are at odds with each other is the White House’s proposal to cut payroll taxes in half next year. Cantor said on CNN Friday morning that the proposal “is something that’s certainly in the mix.”
“I was interested to hear that the president supports now the employer side of the payroll tax,” Cantor said. “Again, what the Republican plan for job creators is about is to try to provide incentives for business people to begin to hire again. And although we would like to see much more certainty and permanency in the proposals -- because what the president is talking about is a very temporary help -- it is something that we certainly would support. And that is to give employers, small business people, some tax relief so they can begin to hire again. ... As you know, Republicans don’t believe that we should allow taxes to go up, especially in times like this.”
Sessions, however, said Friday that he does not support the payroll tax cut extension because it “would further accelerate the demise of Social Security’s solvency.”