A modified version of President Obama's jobs bill will face its first test this afternoon, when the Senate votes on whether to take up the legislation. Obama has been on a nation-wide campaign to sell his bill the American public, but it seems unlikely to get the 60 votes necessary to move it forward in the Senate.
The New York Times reports that Obama said if he doesn't get the votes, the president will try to move it through the chambers in a piece-meal manner:
That is what Mr. Obama said was his preference in what almost sounded like an outright acknowledgement that Congress would reject his jobs proposal. "If they don't pass the whole package, we're going to break it up into different parts," Mr. Obama said Tuesday during a jobs-related meeting in Pittsburgh, echoing White House officials who have said that they would seek to push those parts of the bill with the most chance of passage.
Alternatively, if the bill does not pass, Senate Democrats might join a handful of Republicans in searching for areas where the two parties might agree — a formidable challenge in a chamber where comity seems to worsen by the week.
If you need a refresher, the $447 billion bill includes tax cuts for workers and businesses and $175 billion in infrastructure and school spending among other things. The big difference between this bill and the one unveiled during a prime-time address by the president is that this one is funded by a 5.6 percent surcharge on those with an income exceeding $1 million.
The AP reports a bit on the politics of the bill:
Republicans say the 2009 stimulus measure was an expensive failure and that the current plan is just like it.
The president has been struggling in opinion polls and his crusade for the measure has always been a long shot given that Republicans control the House and can filibuster at will in the Senate. Obama has nonetheless pressed for the bitterly divided Congress to pass the measure in its entirety rather than seek compromise with his GOP rivals.
"This is not the time for the usual games or political gridlock in Washington," Obama said in his weekend radio and Internet address. "Any senator out there who's thinking about voting against this jobs bill needs to explain why they would oppose something that we know would improve our economic situation."
One big thing to watch for is whether the bill gets a simple majority. As Politico puts it, if Obama fails to get his own party's vote, it would "be an embarrassment for the president and provide even more fodder for Republicans who have objected to the White House's repeated calls to pass his jobs plan 'now.'"
Our friend Frank James, over at It's All Politics, will have more on the politics of it all.