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Obama Challenges Lawmakers on Jobs, Sends Trade Deals to Capitol Hill

President Barack Obama during a Cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, Oct. 3, 2011

President Barack Obama during a Cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, Oct. 3, 2011

U.S. President Barack Obama has renewed his call for congressional approval of jobs legislation he sent to Capitol Hill three weeks ago. The White House confirmed Monday that free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama have formally been sent to Congress.

Speaking before a Cabinet meeting at the White House, Mr. Obama noted it has been several weeks since his American Jobs Act was sent to Congress, adding he expects lawmakers to schedule a vote before the end of this month.

Mr. Obama and White House officials have made clear that while he prefers Congress debate and approve the entire bill, he would sign portions of it as long as they are effective and fair.

Republican leaders sent the president a letter on Monday, some aspects of which the White House describes as conciliatory.

In his remarks, however, the president challenged Republicans to state clearly what aspects of his legislation they oppose and which they do not.

"If there are aspects of the bill that they don't like, they should tell us what it is that they are not to go for, they should tell us what it is that they are prepared to see move forward," said President Obama.

In an interview later with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, Mr. Obama was asked about remarks by the Republican Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, Eric Cantor.

Cantor rejected a vote on the full bill in the Republican-controlled House. Mr. Obama challenged Cantor to "tell us exactly what he is for."

House Republicans plan to take up legislation they say should have the support of the White House, including two measures aimed at removing what they see as excessive government regulation.

The White House meanwhile on Monday formally sent three trade deals with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama, that were the subject of years of tough negotiations, to Congress. Both sides had accused each other of delaying final action on the agreements.

Representative Cantor said the House will vote on the pacts next week. In his ABC News interview, Mr. Obama said the trade deals will help create jobs in the United States, but added they are not enough by themselves to do what is needed for the economy.

In his interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, President Obama was also asked about a new ABC News poll showing 55 percent of Americans believe he will be a one-term president.

"I am used to being an underdog, and I think at the end of the day though, what people are going to say is, who has got a vision for the future that can actually help ordinary families recapture that American dream," asked Obama

President Obama also discussed progress made against the al-Qaida terrorist organization, saying its entire leadership has been "decimated." He said continued pressure would make it "very difficult" for al-Qaida to mount the kind of attacks seen September 11th, 2001.