Obama: We'll break up jobs bill if Senate blocks full package

President Barack Obama is applauded as he arrives to speak about jobs, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011, at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local No. 5 Training Center in Pittsburgh.
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic
As the Senate gears up to vote on President Obama's jobs package Tuesday evening, the president pledged that his administration would attempt push the bill's measures through Congress piecemeal if the Senate does not pass it. The bill is not expected to get the 60 votes necessary to clear the chamber.

Mr. Obama, speaking during a meeting with his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness in Pittsburgh, told council members he didn't know how Congress would "respond" to the bill as a whole, but that the administration would seek to move his agenda forward even if the bill doesn't get through the Senate.

"I don't know how Congress will respond to the overall package, but our expectation is if they don't pass the whole package we're going to break it up into constituent parts," he said. "And having the relevant businesses get behind an effort to move this infrastructure agenda forward is a priority."

The president has made a major push over the last several weeks to cement support for the American Jobs Act, a $447 billion proposal designed to stimulate the economy.

The plan, which he unveiled in September and which he has subsequently been touting to voters across the country, includes $250 billion in tax cuts, including reduced payroll taxes on both workers and employers, $60 billion in extended unemployment benefits and $140 billion in spending on education, transportation projects and public workers, including police officers.

The proposal has been met with stiff opposition by Republicans, and faces almost certain defeat in tonight's Senate vote.

CBS News White House correspondent Peter Maer reported Tuesday that up to four Democrats could join Republicans to block the entire jobs package from going forward in the Senate, while a few Democrats from swing states are said to be wavering.

Mr. Obama is calling on those senators who oppose the bill to justify their votes to the American people.

"Today is the day when every American will find out exactly where their senator stands," he said, speaking to a crowd in Pittsburgh following his meeting with the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

Mr. Obama noted that any senator who voted against the bill "should have to look you in the eye and tell you what exactly they are opposed to."

"I think they'd have a hard time explaining why they voted no on this bill other than the fact that I proposed it," he added. "Folks should ask their senators, 'Why would you consider voting against putting teachers... back to work?'"

Reiterating an argument he has made frequently in recent weeks, Mr. Obama argued that while "in a perfect world with unlimited resources, nobody would have to pay any taxes," Americans had a choice - ask the wealthiest Americans to pay more in taxes, increase the deficit, or allow middle class Americans to suffer.

"This is a matter of priorities and it's a matter of shared sacrifice," he said. "And by the way, if you ask most wealthy Americans, they'll tell you they're willing to do their fair share."

He added that voters want Congress to "do what's right for our economy" and for the American people.

"In other words," he said, "they want congress to do their job."

"Let Congress know who they work for," said Mr. Obama. "Remind them what's at stake."

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