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May 28, 2015

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White House makes jobs pitch during stop in Henderson

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

The Obama administration brought its push for the seemingly dead $447 billion American Jobs Act to Henderson on Friday, providing the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community with information to help prevent home foreclosures and jump-start small businesses.

The daylong gathering hosted by The White House Initiative on Asian-American and Pacific Islanders drew more than 200 people at a union hall.

It was The White House Initiative’s second public meeting in less than a month targeting ethnic voters in Southern Nevada, a state where the unemployment rate was 13.4 percent in August, the highest in the country. With its six electoral votes, Nevada could again be a key swing state in the presidential election.

Assistant to the President Christopher Lu said that despite the administration’s loss earlier this week on a procedural vote to bring the Jobs Act to the Senate floor, President Barack Obama will continue to seek public support for the measure. The administration says it would prevent layoffs of 280,000 teachers nationwide and provide an estimated $5 billion to protect the jobs of police and firefighters in financially strapped communities. The measure includes a mix of temporary tax cuts, hiring incentives for small businesses, extended unemployment benefits and money for public works projects.

“People in Nevada know we don’t have 13 months to solve the nation’s problems. We have to do it right now,” Lu said between sessions of the gathering. “With some minor tweaking, we could get every Democratic Senator.”

Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Jon Tester of Montana helped defeat the measure during a Tuesday vote that would have ended debate on the proposal and brought it to the floor for a full Senate vote. Congressional observers say it is unlikely the measure in its current form would pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Despite the legislative hurdles, Lu, a top legislative aide to then-Sen. Obama, said “in another, less-partisan era” the measure would have passed both houses of Congress.

“These are ideas that should have bipartisan appeal and in any other partisan climate would have passed,” he said.

Republican Congressional leaders oppose the measure, saying it will expand the nation’s record debt and federal deficit. Despite the legislative divide, Lu indicated that there is the potential for a compromise.

“We may not get the entire American Jobs Act done, but we’re going to get as much of it done as we can,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Elizabeth Echols, regional administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, told the audience that a series of initiatives are needed to improve the fortunes of working people. She noted that the Jobs Act with extended unemployment benefits would give some relief to thousands of Nevadans who have seen their unemployment benefits expire after 99 weeks. The maximum individual payment is $400 a week.

Despite the claims of Republicans who argue that the government sector is a drag on the economy or does not create jobs, Echols said the federal government is the biggest consumer in the world.

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