White House: Unanimous Dem Support For Jobs Bill Is Not The Right Test

The White House is rejecting the notion — even among senior Democrats — that the President’s jobs bill needs to get unanimous Democratic support when it hits the Senate floor tonight or face criticism that Obama is having a tough time convincing members of his own party about its viability.

“The test is not unanimous support among Democrats,” a senior White House official told reporters Tuesday morning, noting that rarely does the entire Democratic caucus vote in lockstep on any bill.The focus, the official said, should be on Republicans’ unanimous opposition to the jobs bill — even though they have failed to present an alternative that would create jobs immediately.

“They’re a party in unanimity — voting against things that in normal times” would be considered popular and bipartisan such as extending the payroll tax relief and rebuilding aging roads and bridges, the official said.

“There’s a bigger picture here…,” the official continued. “You’re obsessing about whether we’re going to get 50 or 51.”

To ramp up the pressure on Republicans, the White House is already working with the Senate Democratic leaders to break the jobs package into component parts and hold future votes on pieces of the plan, such as the payroll tax relief and infrastructure spending, both of which have strong bipartisan support, the official added.

As the White House officials were lowering expectations for the Senate vote on breaking a filibuster on the jobs bill Tuesday night, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) was putting the pressure on his Senate counterparts to vote in favor and acknowledging that anything but unanimous support from Senate Democrats would send a weak signal to the American public.

“I hope Democrats who may not like this piece, that piece, or the other piece would vote to put this bill on the floor to have it considered and have it open to amendment,” Hoyer said during a briefing with reporters. “If we don’t, the premise is correct that people will read it as a lack of support for a jobs program. I frankly think all 53 democrats — 52 — are for a jobs bill of some type. I think you’re correct that if we cant get 51 democrats to vote for it, it will clearly be argued by Republicans and construed by all of you as undermining the President’s message.”

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