The vice president said the economy is recovering but that the key measure is whether Americans who want jobs feel like they can find them.
Given that the unemployment rate stood at 9.7 percent in May - three-tenths higher than it was last year - the administration is keen to see lawmakers spend more on jobs.
House Democrats heeded the advice on Thursday, passing a $30 billion government fund designed to spur banks to lend to small businesses. The bill passed by a vote of 241-182.
But across the Capitol, Senate Democrats fell four votes short of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster on the $105 billion extension of stimulus programs, including aid to states that face layoffs or major budget cuts without the money.
A bigger version, totaling $140 billion, was soundly defeated by a bipartisan majority on Wednesday.
About half of the new $105 billion version is paid for, and the other half is added to the deficit. Those changes won over many wavering Democrats, but not all - and Republicans remained united in their opposition.
Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, complicated matters by offering a 20-part amendment to cut spending to pay for the rest of the new spending. His parliamentary tactic caught Democrats by surprise.
“Borrowing money that we don’t have to spend on things that we don’t absolutely need is not the answer to solve the problems with our economy. The answer is for us to live within our means,” Mr. Coburn said.
But after the Republican-led filibuster, Democrats will have to rewrite their bill, and it’s unclear whether Mr. Coburn’s proposed cuts will get a vote when the Senate returns next week.
The national debt topped $13 trillion earlier this month and stood at $13.073 trillion as of Wednesday, the latest day figures were available.
Mr. Biden said they are still searching for the 60 votes needed to cut off debate and force a final vote on the bill, but he challenged lawmakers to step up and said in the overall budget picture this one-time spending won’t add that much to long-term debt.
“That’s what leadership is about. Leadership is about making the right decisions based on what the facts are, even at the time when their viewed to be unpopular,” he said.