Washington (CNN) Senate Democrats huddled with top Obama administration officials in the Capitol Thursday to pore through the details of the president’s jobs bill and figure out the best way to pass it through the chamber.
Most senators departing the 90-minute meeting with White House aides Gene Sperling, David Plouffe and others said they support the $447 billion proposal, which is designed to boost employment. However, some expressed concerns about the price tag of the bill and the president’s plan to raise some taxes to cover the costs.
“It was informative and we’re on the same page, we’re on the same team,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, a Democratic leader. “People brought up their concerns, which people always have, but it was a great meeting and I think it showed that we’re unified.”
“Not surprisingly, the people who are from oil producing states are not wild about the elimination of the oil subsidy,” as a way to pay for the bill, said Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the number two Democrat. “We’re not going to get 100 percent of our caucus but believe me, if it were up to the Democrats to pass the president’s plan, it will pass.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said she won’t vote for the it unless she’s convinced it will help employment in her economically hard-hit state.
“We have the highest unemployment. We have the most people. We have the biggest problems in terms of state and local cuts. So, I need some specificity,” she said.
Senate leaders are still finalizing plans for how and when to put the legislation on the floor. Some people want to move it in one package and force Republicans to try to defeat it. Others prefer to break it up, raising the possibility that at least some of it will become law.
"We’ve had a lot of discussions about what we want to put up,” said Schumer. “There’s the president’s bill and then there are lots of other proposals that senate members have.”
“All of that will be determined,” he added. “There certainly will be a vote on the president’s plan.
Nearly all the Democrats complained that Republicans were dragging out floor fights on FEMA, FAA, and highway funding and preventing the Senate from turning to the jobs legislation.
"There isn’t anybody in the administration who doesn’t understand the importance of moving the jobs bill,” said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey, “The question is can you get it through the muck and mire.”
Schumer promised that once the senate gets back from its recess in October and for the next several months, “we’ll be focused on jobs.”