WASHINGTON -- Leading Democratic senators called on Wednesday for a strengthened focus on job creation during the deficit reduction talks and asked their Republican colleagues to join them in support of legislation to boost job growth.
"We need to continue to put jobs first, and we're continuing that on the floor of the United States Senate," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) at a Capitol Hill press conference that also featured Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.), Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Mark Begich (Alaska).
The press conference came a day after Republicans blocked a bill that would have reauthorized the Economic Development Administration (EDA), a federal program that provides grants to local projects and has been praised a job-creator. Four Democrats joined with the GOP in voting against cloture.
"Republicans have shown they're willing to block an amendment that's one of the most straightforward, unobjectionable, common sense bipartisan measures we bring to the floor, measures that have passed in the past by unanimous consent on a number of occasions" Reid said.
Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), who both have been critical of the EDA, said the bill would spend too much money on projects that aren't necessarily in the national interest.
On Wednesday, both Durbin and Schumer went as far as accusing Republicans of opposing the measure for political gain. Durbin brought up comments made by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in which he claimed his "single most important" job was to make President Obama a one-term president.
"We can see in the way that the Republicans are acting on the floor of the Senate and the House, that is their goal," Durbin said. "When we bring up bills that really have a chance to create jobs, they stop them with 100 amendments -- unrelated amendments. That avalanche of amendments is not a show of good faith ... it's a show of bad faith."
"It's pro-business; it's a tax cut; and many Republicans have been for it in the past. But now, all of a sudden, they're coming out against it," Schumer said. "If they oppose something even so suited to their taste ideologically, it shows that they're just opposing anything that would help create jobs. It almost makes you wonder if they aren't trying to slow down the economic recovery for political gain."
Murray and Stabenow brought up the constituents in their respective states, noting that people are equally concerned with the ability to obtain jobs as they are with debt reduction. Stabenow compared the current deficit reduction talks with the Michigan auto industry, where people of all economic sectors "came together and made a sacrifice."
"They hit a reset button, and then they raced to move forward on innovation with a partnership from the federal government," she said. "We invested in growth, and they will tell you and any business will tell you, you don't just cut your way to success. You grow, you invest in the future and you invest in innovation. You invest in jobs."
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