Super Committee's Failure Means Lost Avenue For Obama's Jobs Bills
WASHINGTON -- The so-called super committee announced Monday that it failed to deliver on its task: producing a plan that shaves trillions of dollars off the debt. And for the White House, that means it just lost its best shot for fast-tracking pieces of President Barack Obama's jobs package through Congress.
Senior House and Senate Democratic aides conceded that a super committee deal, should there have been one, was Obama's best bet for moving pieces of his signature $447 billion jobs bill through the Senate without the threat of a filibuster. That's because any proposal that made its way through the 12-member committee would be granted the equivalent of parliamentary immunity; lawmakers would be prohibited from amending or filibustering the bill, which would come to a vote at the end of December.
The White House previously tried, and failed, to pass its jobs bill in its entirety. It has since carved out individual pieces of the bill, dubbed the American Jobs Act, and tried to pass them on their own, a task that becomes more challenging now that they can't be attached to a fast-moving, insulated super committee deal.
The bipartisan super committee "was pretty much it" for expediting portions of Obama's jobs bill, said a senior Senate Democratic aide.
Obama's job-creation priorities include extending unemployment insurance and a payroll tax cut. The aide noted that those proposals, along with other loose items once envisioned to be lumped in with a super committee deal, now face an unclear fate.
"Without a super deal that includes this stuff, there aren't many vehicles," said the aide. "We'll see what things look like after the holiday and plot a path forward."
A House Democratic leadership aide said Obama's jobs proposals could "possibly" get lumped into a Dec. 16 continuing resolution to keep the government funded. But a CR doesn't prevent a Senate filibuster, so it's not likely that the White House will be able to attach a jobs bill to the CR without a fight.
Prior to talks falling apart, super committee negotiators had been zeroing in on $300 billion in new economic stimulus in their proposal. Last month, aides on Capitol Hill were mum about what that would have included, but a source familiar with deliberations said lawmakers were eying pieces of Obama's jobs bill for it, including an extension of unemployment insurance, the payroll tax cut, money for infrastructure repairs and the creation of an infrastructure bank.
White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said Obama will keep pressing lawmakers to pass his jobs bills, despite the super committee hitting a wall. Obama is set to give remarks in New Hampshire on Tuesday urging Congress to move on one of his priorities, a payroll tax cut extension. Failure to act here means middle-class families will be hit with a $1,000 tax hike at the start of 2012.
"Regardless of what the Joint Committee does, the President will continue to do what he has been doing -- push for Congress to pass all the pieces of the American Jobs Act, including tax cuts for workers and small businesses and an extension and reform of unemployment insurance," Brundage said in a statement to HuffPost.
Expect the White House to also press Congress to pay for Obama's jobs bills by raising taxes on the wealthy.
Asking millionaires and billionaires to pay "a little bit extra" in order to offset the costs of jobs proposals "would be an approach that this president supports because it meets the principles that guided him when he designed the American Jobs Act," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said during a Monday briefing.