WASHINGTON -- Hoping to put political pressure on Republicans and provide a few sympathetic visuals for reporters, congressional Democrats are planning to host a rally on Capitol Hill this week to push a major component of President Barack Obama's jobs plan.
A Democratic source says that on Wednesday, the party is likely to host firefighters, cops and other first responders along with teachers who face the threat of being laid off should lawmakers not send additional funds to states. Another source confirmed that preparations are underway for a rally.
The purpose of the affair is straightforward. It aims to put a human face on a legislative effort that would see $30 billion or so spent on education-related jobs and another $5 billion on first responders, all of which would be paid for by placing a tax on income above $1 million. By bringing those individuals who stand to benefit from the bill to Washington D.C., Democrats are practically doing the national press corps' homework for them.
The extent to which the White House will be involved in the affair remains unclear. But the administration does see the contrast drawn by both the bill and the rally as an advantageous one for the president.
"There is no perfect science to starting on teachers, firefighters, and cops," an administration official said of the decision to make that component of the American Jobs Act the first to receive a vote separate from the whole package. "First off, it is very important to get done. But also, if the Republicans want to oppose this, it crystallizes who they are fighting against."
Whether that crystallization will change the whip count remains to be seen. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he would hold a vote on the bill within the next few days, arguing that its passage was necessary to keep 400,000 teachers and first responders on the job.
“I am happy to keep the Senate in session as long as needed to make sure we get a vote on this jobs bill," said the Majority Leader during a press call on Monday.
Minutes later, however, the office of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) responded with little evidence that the GOP would budge.
"Will the President at some point explain the endgame to this economic strategy?" emailed Press Secretary Brendan Buck, noting that the president had already asked for and received billions of dollars in direct aid to states several times during his presidency. "Or can we simply expect the President to be asking for another big check next year as well? Maybe it’s time we try an approach focused on putting folks back to work for the long haul."