President Obama delivers remarks at a news conference after the closing… (Kent Nishimura / Getty Images )
Reporting from Honolulu — Republican lawmakers may be smothering his jobs bill, but their intransigence could get them booted out of office, President Obama said.
At a news conference Sunday, Obama said the Republicans opposing his $447-billion jobs package are woefully out of step with an American public that liked the plan and wanted it passed.
Obama's comments came in response to a question about his leadership. More than two months after unveiling his jobs package, and after repeated speeches devoted to getting it approved, the bulk of the legislation is bottled up in Congress. What should Americans conclude about his failure to pass his signature piece of legislation? the president was asked.
Obama said the results to date were less a reflection on him than on lawmakers whose approval rating had sunk to record lows.
Speaking after his summit meeting with Asian-Pacific leaders, the president said, "The American people, at this point, are wondering about congressional leadership in failing to pass the jobs bill -- the components of which the majority of Americans, including many Republicans -- think are a good idea.
"And that's part of the reason why the American people right now aren't feeling real good about Congress. Normally, by the way, the way politics works is if the overwhelming majority of the American people aren't happy with what you're doing, you start doing something different. So far that hasn't happened in Congress -- and the Republicans in Congress in particular."
Obama's jobs plan aims to rebuild roads, bridges and ports; keep teachers and public employees on the job; and expand a temporary payroll tax cut.
The Senate last week passed two small pieces of the plan -- tax credits for companies that hire disabled veterans and repeal of a tax on companies that do business with government. The House is expected to take up the measures this week.
Obama said he wouldn't give up on passing the plan in its entirety. Should the impasse continue, he warned, voters may be the ones to force action.
"So I'm going to keep on pushing," he said. "And my expectation is that we will just keep on chipping away at this. If you're asking me do I anticipate that the Republican leadership in the House or the Senate will suddenly decide that I was right all along and they will adopt 100% of my proposals, the answer is no. I don't expect that. Do I anticipate that at some point they recognize that doing nothing is not an option? That's my hope. And that should be their hope too, because if they don't, I think we'll have a different set of leaders in Congress."