House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) continued his opposition to President Obama's jobs bill this week, saying the measure was "dead on arrival" and would not be brought up on the House floor for a vote. In response, Democrats in the Senate have begun looking at the bill with an eye towards moving forward with a plan later this week.
In some political maneuvering in the Senate on Tuesday, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pushed for a quick vote on the original bill as delivered by President Obama, even though he opposes it.
According to Politico, McConnell told reporters, "What the president has asked for is not parts of it, but the whole thing. He's been critical of Congress for not giving him a vote. I think we should."
The request was quickly blocked by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) as leaders of his party continued to huddle behind closed doors strategizing how best to update the bill to make it more palatable to rank-and-file Democrats.
According to Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), "We're also obviously going to work on the number of votes to support it. It may not be the exact plan offered by the president, but I think he, when he presented it to us, said that we need to be open to some variations and modifications."
Currently, among Democratic Senators, provisions like the payroll tax-cut extension and Obama's request for more than $100 billion in new spending as a way of creating jobs will see little opposition.
Proposed Tax Increases Trouble Some Democrats
However, higher taxes on family incomes over $250,000 and on the oil and gas industry trouble Democratic Senators from states like California, New York and New Jersey, where a larger proportion of families would be hit, and Louisiana, where Senator Mary Landrieu has a large amount of oil and gas production.
One strategy that has increased the caustic nature of the debate, and will shore up Democratic support, is Reid's plan to remove all of the Obama Administration's "pay-for" provisions for the $447 billion jobs bill and replace it with a five-percent surcharge on millionaires.
The surcharge, apparently backed by the White House, would raise nearly $445 billion over the next 10 years, enough almost to cover the projected costs of the entire jobs package.
At a Wednesday news conference where the surcharge was discussed, Reid said, "Even the Tea Party thinks it's time for millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share."
Asked when he plans to bring the revised jobs bill to the Senate floor, Reid said he hopes to take it up after work completes on a bill aimed at cracking down on Chinese currency manipulation. When pressed for a more definitive timeline, Reid answered, "Very, very soon."
According to some Washington insiders, it is likely the bill will make it to the Senate floor, with the possibility of amendments, early next week.