WASHINGTON Two days before President Barack Obama unveils a new job-creation initiative, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday signaled it will face tough opposition from his party.
In a speech delivered on the Senate floor as Congress was returning from a month-long break, McConnell said he was "certain" that the Democratic president's new plan will "represent more of the same failed approach that's only made things worse over the past few years and resulted in fewer jobs than when he started."
Obama is scheduled to appear before a joint session of Congress on Thursday night to detail a jobs plan amid chronic high U.S. unemployment that was at 9.1 percent in August.
Among the ideas Obama likely will float are new investment in infrastructure to spur construction jobs, extending a payroll tax cut for workers and possibly broadening it to employers and extending aid for those who are unemployed for long periods.
McConnell, a savvy legislator who was a key player in the debt limit fight that culminated last month in a plan to cut government spending, has made no secret of his role in thwarting Obama administration initiatives.
Last year, McConnell proclaimed in an interview that his top priority was to prevent Obama from winning a second term as president in 2012.
While Obama's fellow Democrats hold a majority in the Senate, Republicans have a solid majority in the House of Representatives and have used their position to block the president's agenda.
Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor wrote Obama on Tuesday, saying they should look for ways to work cooperatively to improve the U.S. economy.
"While it is important that we continue to debate and discuss our different approaches to job creation, it is also critical that our differences not preclude us from taking action in areas where there is common agreement," the Republican leaders said.
For example, they discussed ways to beef up infrastructure projects by streamlining programs in a way that would not add to budget deficits and new models for providing jobless benefits.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Eric Beech)