WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama, reaching out to lawmakers in both U.S. political parties, said on Tuesday he hoped Congress would soon deliver a package of measures to boost U.S. employment and economic growth.
My hope is ... that both in the House (of Representatives) and the Senate, we'll see some packages moving over the next several weeks that can provide a jump-start to hiring and start lowering the unemployment rate, Obama said at the start of a meeting with Democratic and Republican party leaders.
The president, a Democrat, said there were ideas on both sides of the political spectrum that would, for example, allow the United States to lower small business tax rates to encourage hiring.
The House of Representatives passed a $155 billion jobs bill in December, but the Senate has yet to act.
Senate Democratic leaders unveiled a set of job-creating ideas last week and said they would solicit Republican input before moving ahead with legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hoped to introduce a bill on Monday and pass it by the end of the week, but he has been delayed by a record snowstorm that has prevented many lawmakers from coming to work.
It is unlikely that the legislation will be introduced on Tuesday, a congressional aide said.
The president's meeting was part of an effort by the White House to bridge differences between Republicans and Democrats, especially in the area of job creation and economic recovery, after the recent election in Massachusetts deprived Obama's party of its supermajority in the Senate.
Obama has made job creation his top priority in 2010 after stalled efforts to reform the healthcare industry dominated his first year in office.
Obama used the White House meeting to advance another priority -- tackling the U.S. deficit -- an issue on which lawmakers from both parties hope to capitalize ahead of November elections that could change the balance of power in Congress.
Another area where I hope we can find some agreement is on the issue of getting our deficits and debt under control, Obama said. Both parties have stated their concerns about it, and I think both parties recognize that it's going to take a lot of work.
Obama has said he will issue an executive order to set up a fiscal commission to study options on spending and taxes after lawmakers failed to create a congressional panel to address the issue.
I have put forward the idea of a fiscal commission and I'm going to be discussing both with my Democratic and Republican colleagues how we can get that moving as quickly as possible so that we can start taking some concrete action, he said.