- Associated Press - Monday, October 17, 2011

FLETCHER, N.C. (AP) — Railing against Republicans, President Obama on Monday pushed for a jobs package that Congress is splintering into pieces, as the White House predicted the Senate would start taking votes very soon. Mr. Obama pressed lawmakers to act first on sending aid to states to hire teachers and other workers.

Noting that Republicans in the Senate rejected consideration of his whole $447 billion plan, Mr. Obama sought anew to turn that vote against them.

“Maybe they just couldn’t understand the whole thing at once, so we’re going to break it up into bite-sized pieces,” Mr. Obama said in western North Carolina, back on the road to campaign for his agenda and, in turn, his own re-election.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was expected on Monday afternoon to announce the timing of votes. White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that the White House expected the Senate would move first on a $35 billion proposal of aid to states to retain or hire teachers, police and firefighters.

But the state aid package faces long odds on Capitol Hill, where it’s a non-starter in the GOP-controlled House and is sure to face a vote-blocking filibuster in the Senate, which would require 60 votes to overcome. Last year, when Senate Democrats controlled 59 votes, moderate Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine voted with Democrats to pass a $26 billion state aid package. But with their numbers down to 53, Democrats appear stuck.

Mr. Obama’s pitch came in the first stop of a three-day bus tour through North Carolina and Virginia. His goal is to keep pressure on Congress to act on individual pieces of his bill following last week’s Senate vote to shelve the plan.

A supportive crowed broke into a chant of “four more years” for Mr. Obama. Said the president in response: “I appreciate the four more years, but right now I’m thinking about the next thirteen months.”

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