Senate Republicans tried to make Democrats hold a quick vote on President Obama’s jobs-stimulus bill Tuesday, but were blocked by Senate Majority Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who is sponsoring Mr. Obama’s bill but who said other matters take priority.
Mr. Obama has traveled the country calling for Congress to pass his plan immediately — including most recently Tuesday afternoon in Texas — but the tax increases included in his bill are opposed by Republicans and even many Democrats.
With that in mind, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, tried to force a vote, which presumably would have resulted in a humiliating defeat for the White House.
“I’d like to give him that vote,” Mr. McConnell said.
The Senate is currently debating a bill that would push for compensatory tariffs on exports from countries that manipulate their currency — which is designed to punish China.
Mr. Reid said that bill has been waiting for years, and takes precedence over the president’s jobs-stimulus. He tried to get an agreement to short-circuit a filibuster and bring up the president’s bill later this month, but Mr. McConnell objected that.
“What a charade we have going on here,” Mr. Reid fired back, calling Republicans’ effort “ridiculous on its face.”
Mr. Reid said “a majority of the Senate” supports Mr. Obama’s bill, and said the president’s repeated calls for immediate action were aimed at Republicans last month, when Congress was fighting over how to add emergency disaster relief to a stopgap spending bill.
“Of course the president was calling for his jobs bill, recognizing that what was going on here … was a waste of time,” Mr. Reid said.
But even after the disaster funding situation was resolved, Mr. Obama has continued to pressure Congress.
Meanwhile, the White House has refused to say whether it supports the China bill Mr. Reid has prioritized ahead of the jobs measure.