MILLERS CREEK, N.C. — Bowing to political necessity, President Barack Obama pushed Congress to pass his jobs plan in what he called "bite-size pieces" that might prove tougher for Republican lawmakers to reject than the $447 billion package voted down by the Senate last week.
Obama's advisers had initially presented the jobs plan as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. But that strategy collapsed when Senate Democrats failed to muster the 60 votes necessary to break a filibuster and force a vote on a plan that has become the centerpiece of Obama's agenda.
After weeks spent demanding that Congress "pass this bill," Obama rolled out a new message Monday at the opening of his three-day bus tour through North Carolina and Virginia: Pass specific elements of the bill, one by one.
"I think maybe the first time, because we had it all in one bill, they … didn't know what they were voting against," Obama said at West Wilkes High School. "So we're going to chop it up into bite-size pieces and give them another chance to look out for your job instead of looking out for their own jobs."
The Senate plans to cast a vote as early as this week on the first component of Obama's jobs plan: $35 billion to save the jobs of public school teachers, police and firefighters.
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the majority leader, promised "one jobs bill a week" in the days ahead. Senate Republicans immediately denounced the $35 billion proposal as another bailout for public-sector workers.