O’Malley urges Congress to act on jobs
Following a meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House on Thursday, Gov. Martin O’Malley and the Democratic governors of Washington and Minnesota called on Congress to take quick action to address the nation’s stubbornly high unemployment by passing the administration’s jobs bill.
Echoing earlier statements in support of the American Jobs Act – Obama’s $447 billion proposal to kick start the economy – O’Malley argued lawmakers should pass the bill “as soon as possible” and that Democratic leaders would keep the pressure on “this do-nothing Congress to do something on jobs.”
The meeting, which included White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, came days after the Democratic-led Senate failed to muster the 60 votes needed to bring Obama’s jobs measure to the floor for debate. Republicans, concerned about the bill’s cost, voted against it en masse. Two centrist Democrats also opposed it.
Senate leaders are now looking to break the jobs bill into smaller parts. The legislation would extend and deepen a payroll tax holiday for individuals, create new tax breaks for businesses, pump $100 billion into infrastructure and extend unemployment insurance.
The governors also met Thursday with Democratic members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to argue that the panel should not target Medicaid as it looks to trim federal budget deficits by more than $1 trillion. In a letter signed by O’Malley, the governors argued Medicaid reductions would “require states to fill in funding shortfalls with state resources, leading to damaging cuts.”
Asked about the meeting, which was first reported by the Washington-based National Journal, O’Malley said the bulk of the discussion with the deficit-reduction committee members focused on job creation.
Republican leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner, argue that Congress has taken action on jobs, noting the passage Wednesday of free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea as well as what Boehner called “numerous bills to stop excessive regulations that are threatening the creation of jobs.”
“Republicans remain squarely focused on jobs, and once again this week we've passed several bills aimed at creating a better environment for job creation and putting Americans back to work,” Boehner said.
O’Malley, who chairs the Democratic Governors Association, was joined by Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire and Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton.
“We can’t afford to have nothing done,” Gregoire said. “We together are all very disappointed that there has been no action.”