The House on Thursday passed a measure to repeal an IRS withholding tax, the first measure from President Obama's $447 billion jobs package that Republicans have agreed to back.
The measure repeals a requirement for the government to withhold 3 percent of the payments it makes to contractors (in case the contractors were over-charging for their services). It represents a small portion of Mr. Obama's large legislative plan to get the economy back on track, and the Senate is expected to pass the bill next week.
Both the White House and Republicans said they were happy to see some common ground reached -- and then promptly went back to pointing fingers for the lack of progress on other jobs-related measures.
"We owe it to the American people to find common ground," House Speaker John Boehner said today. "Repealing this tax is another step in that effort in finding common ground."
Boehner cited other areas where the White House and House Republicans have agreed, namely three free trade agreements. However, he said the Congress should focus on what the House GOP is calling its "forgotten 15" -- 15 House-passed bills the GOP says would stimulate the economy.
"The president says 'we can't wait' to take action on jobs, and I agree," Boehner said. "Mr. President, help us with the United States Senate to pass these bipartisan, common-sense bills that will get our economy moving once again.'"
Added Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, "The overwhelming, bipartisan vote in the House on the 3 percent withholding provision shows that when Congress acts on areas of agreement--rather than stimulus spending and tax hikes--we can get things done."
Without addressing any of the "forgotten 15" specifically, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney pushed back against the Republican agenda and the notion that the president won't support any of it.
"He is working with Republicans cooperatively on the things they agree on," Carney said. However, he added that the GOP agenda has "very few ideas that have any measurable positive impact in the near term on economic growth and job creation. That's not just me saying it... That's outside economic analysts.""They don't deal with the need right now, which is... to get the economy growing and to get people back to work," he continued. "The president's plan does that."
The Senate is slated in the coming days to vote on another one of the president's proposals -- a measure to invest in infrastructure. Carney said that such measures have wide, bipartisan approval among the public and that Republicans who oppose them are "out of sync" with their constituents.
Carney said Republican obstruction was to blame for Congress' low approval rating. The latestshowed just 9 percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing.
"I mean, I know nine is a popular number in the Republican Party, but this can't possibly be the kind of nine that they want," Carney said, alluding to GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain's "999" tax plan. Carney joked, "Nine, nine, nine... nine."