WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Still searching for mechanisms to pass pieces of the president's jobs bill, senior administration officials returned on Thursday to the most likely fallback option for legislative movement.
In a briefing with reporters, two top officials relayed that the administration would welcome having the congressional super committee write elements of the American Jobs Act into its deficit reduction proposal.
"I'm not going to get into the specifics of their proposal," said one senior administration official, "but that would be an avenue to do it. It's not the only avenue ... that would be a natural place"
"We have been pretty clear consistently -- publicly and privately -- that that would be an avenue to do it," the official added. "At the same time you are making significant strides in deficit reduction, if they were to come to an agreement, that would be a natural place to do some job producing measures."
Already stymied in its attempts to pass the bill in full, as well as in pieces, the administration has few if any avenues remaining. Putting portions of the plan into the super committee's recommendations would increase the chances that they would pass. Any proposal, should it get through the 12-member bipartisan committee, would be granted the equivalent of parliamentary immunity; lawmakers would be prohibited from amending or filibustering the measure, which would come to a vote at the end of December.
At the same time, however, the mere act of attaching Obama's legislative priorities to the super committee's proposal increases the likelihood that Republicans will oppose it. An already difficult to pass deficit-reduction plan will become that much more implausible.
On Wednesday, Democrats on the committee, led by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) put out a "presentation" for the super committee to consider that achieved between $2.5 billion and $3 billion in deficit reduction. Tucked into the measure was $300 billion in new economic stimulus. Aides on Capitol Hill have been fairly mum about what makes up that $300 billion, but a source familiar with deliberations said that lawmakers have been looking to include components of the president's jobs plan, specifically an extension of unemployment insurance, the payroll tax cut, money for infrastructure repairs and the creation of an infrastructure bank.
"In a fully functioning political system [the super committee] would be the right place to do it," another senior administration official said when asked about tacking on those items.