WASHINGTON -- A day after Senate Republicans blocked action on his much-touted jobs bill, President Barack Obama said he isn't taking no for an answer.
Obama said Wednesday that he will keep rallying public support and pushing Congress to vote on the $447 billion jobs plan that he says independent economists have said would help grow the economy and create nearly 2 million jobs next year.
Senate Republicans defeated the jobs bill on Tuesday. But Obama said the story won't end there.
"Now a lot of folks in Washington and the media will look at last night's vote and say, `Well, that's it. Let's move on to the next fight.' But I've got news for them: Not this time. Not with so many Americans out of work," he said. "Not with so many folks in your communities hurting. We will not take no for an answer." It was his first public comments on the bill's defeat.
"We will keep organizing and we will keep pressuring and we will keep voting until this Congress finally meets its responsibilities and actually does something to put people back to work and improve the economy," said Obama, who spoke at an event organized by the White House recognizing Latino contributions to American history.
Obama turned his speech into a pitch for the jobs bill. Besides citing the independent analysis that it would create nearly 2 million jobs, Obama said 35 million Hispanics would benefit from the combination of tax breaks and direct government spending in his plan.
"But apparently, none of this matters to Republicans in the Senate," Obama said. He said the GOP minority had rejected jobs for teachers, police, construction workers and veterans.
Obama's plan combines Social Security payroll tax cuts for workers and businesses and other tax relief totaling about $270 billion with $175 billion in new federal spending on roads, school repairs and other infrastructure. The package also includes unemployment assistance and aid to local governments to avoid layoffs of teachers, firefighters and police officers.
The plan would be paid for with a 5.6 percent surcharge on income exceeding $1 million, expected to raise about $450 billion over a decade.
Obama urged his audience, assembled at the Interior Department, to press lawmakers – anyway they can – to act. Obama himself has spent the past five weeks campaigning across the country, including in the districts of some of his top Republican antagonists in Congress, in an attempt to build public support for the bill.
"Remind members of Congress who they work for. Remind them what's at stake here," Obama said. "Too many in this country are hurting for us to stand by and do nothing."