(Jonathan Ernst / Reuters )
Reporting from Pittsburgh — President Obama urged senators to pass his entire $447-billion jobs bill tonight but, hours before its expected failure, he acknowledged that he'll probably have to try to pass it piece by piece.
If the measure fails to win 60 votes to proceed in the Senate, Obama said, "we're going to have to break it up" into parts in the coming weeks.
Obama made the public remarks here shortly after meeting with members of his jobs council, a panel of business leaders who recommended today that he ease environmental and health regulations and cut taxes on investors in order to spur job creation.
In its report to the president, the panel also suggested investing in infrastructure and energy development, seeking foreign investment and improving education.
But while Obama applauded the suggestions from "outside Washington," he refrained from embracing any particular proposals – and pivoted quickly to the subject of the pending Senate vote and the "moment of truth" it offers to voters about their senators.
"Today is the day when every American will find out where their senator stands on this jobs bill," Obama told a crowd gathered at the local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers hall. "This jobs bill would cut taxes for virtually every worker and small business in America … The Senate should pass it today."
Advisors to the president believe Americans are rallying around his call to pass the plan. The more he talks about it, they say, the more support swells.
"After three weeks of advocacy by the president," Obama strategist David Axelrod says in a new memo sent out to campaign staff today, "support has grown by nearly 10%."
So when Obama travels to Michigan on Friday, he will only slightly adjust his message. He'll still be calling for the passage of the jobs bills, only he won't be urging crowds to "Pass this bill!" as he has done for the last month and a half.
He'll be talking about passing it piece by piece, according to one senior administration official who expects the payroll tax will probably be the first provision to arise. That proposal has the most bipartisan support, as well as an expiration date looming at the beginning of the year.
Obama will be accompanied to the Detroit area by the president of South Korea, with whom he has negotiated a trade deal now awaiting Senate approval. Obama is fond of telling crowds that he doesn't mind seeing Hyundais and Kias for sale in the U.S. as long as there are American cars for sale in Korea.
On Friday, the two men will visit Lake Orion to tour the General Motors Orion Assembly plant. Obama claims the free-trade agreements he has negotiated as accomplishments of his jobs-creation agenda.
When the Senate considers his jobs bill tonight, President Obama plans to be in a meeting with a group of unemployed construction workers in Florida.
Rather than watch the Republican presidential debate, aides say, he'll watch the Tigers play the Rangers in the baseball playoffs.