WH: Obama would sign portions of jobs bill

President Barack Obama speaks about the American Jobs Act, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011, at Fort Hayes Arts and Academic High School in Columbus, Ohio.
AP Photo/Tony Dejak

President Obama has aggressively pushed for the passage of his $447 billion jobs bill this week, suggesting Congress should consider the entire measure. The White House acknowledged today, however, that Mr. Obama would sign portions of the bill into law if they were sent to him -- though the president would continue to press Congress to pass the rest of it.

"If Congress were to send a portion of the American Jobs Act, the president would, of course, not veto it," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters today. "He would sign it and then he would return to press the Congress to get the rest of the job done."

Carney continued, "Congress will have a lot of explaining to do if, come the end of the year, they have done nothing to address Americans' number one priority."

The remarks seemingly walk back the administration's insistence over the past few days that the bill can't be piecemealed. On ABC's "Good Morning America" today, Obama strategist David Axelrod said, "The president has a package, and the package works together... It's not an a la carte menu. It's a strategy to get this country moving."

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has said that there are some ideas in the American Jobs Act that he thinks Republicans can support, such as providing tax relief to small businesses, but he said Republicans reject the president's "all-or-nothing approach" to the legislation.

Democrats in Congress, meanwhile, have backed up the president's ambitious positioning.

Rep. Steny Hoyer, Md., the No. 2 Democrat in the House, said today that he hopes the bill is ultimately passed "in a unified way... because the president offered this as a package as a whole cloth to try to knit together various different proposals."

Hoyer said it would not be acceptable to Democrats to pass only tax cuts. "Every nation in the world that is our competitor is investing in infrastructure," he said. "Republicans are suggesting disinvesting in infrastructure... We know that they support tax cuts, but if that's the only thing that they will support, that's not going to get us to where we need to be."

Liberal House Democrats today also admonished Cantor's position, calling for consideration of the bill in its entirety. "Half a loaf is not enough," Rep. Lynne Woolsey, D-Calif., said. "We cannot cut this baby in half."

Mr. Obama, meanwhile, is on the road, drumming into voters' heads a message that seems to be sticking: "Pass this bill!"

"My question to Congress is: What on earth are we waiting for?" Mr. Obama yelled in a speech at a school in Columbus, Ohio today. "Let's tell Congress, pass this bill, right away!"

With that, the crowd took up the president's new mantra and started chanting, "Pass this bill! Pass this bill!"

After a speech tomorrow in Raleigh, North Carolina, the president will have delivered five speeches on his jobs bill within the span of seven days.

"The time for gridlock and games is over," Mr. Obama said today. "If you want to create jobs right now, pass this bill."

While the president has rebuked Republicans for inserting politics into the discussion, the president himself has been traveling to key electoral states to mobilize support for his bill. Asked whether Mr. Obama was guilty of "campaigning," Carney told reporters yesterday, "You're absolutely right, it is a campaign -- the president is campaigning for growth and jobs." Carney said Mr. Obama would take his message "across the land," not just to swing states like Ohio.