President Barack Obama blasted Senate Republicans for obstructing his administration’s top legislative priority: a bill providing tax cuts and a $32 billion lending fund for small businesses to spur job growth.

During a Rose Garden press event on Monday, Obama fired away at Republicans for holding up the bill. “Small business owners and the communities that rely on them, they don’t have time for political games,” he said. “They shouldn’t have to wait any longer. In fact, just this morning, a story showed that small businesses have put hiring and expanding on hold while waiting for the Senate to act on this bill. Simply put: holding this bill hostage is directly detrimental to our economic growth.”

Obama urged Republican leaders to end their filibuster when they return from the August recess. A vote has been scheduled on a Republican amendment to the bill, the Small Business Jobs Act, soon after the Senate returns on Sept. 13 (see Senate Eases 1099 Woes in Small Business Bill).

“So I ask Senate Republicans to drop the blockade,” said Obama. “I know we’re entering election season. But the people who sent us here expect us to work together to get things done and improve this economy.”

In response, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., said, “Instead of growing jobs as promised, Washington Democrats have grown the size of the national debt, the federal government and the unemployment rate. It's no surprise that most Americans think the country is on the wrong track and that Democrat policies have failed to do anything to fix their top concern, the economy.”

Obama said his economic team is “hard at work in identifying additional measures that could make a difference in both promoting growth and hiring in the short term, and increasing our economy’s competitiveness in the long term.”

Among them, he noted, are “steps like extending the tax cuts for the middle class that are set to expire this year.” He also said the administration would redouble the investment in clean energy and research and development, rebuild more of the nation’s infrastructure for the future, and provide “further tax cuts to encourage businesses to put their capital to work creating jobs here in the United States.” Obama pledged to address the proposals in further detail in the days and weeks to come.

Obama highlighted Republicans’ opposition to the small business jobs bill in his speech. “There’s currently a jobs bill before Congress that would do two big things for small business owners: cut more taxes and make available more loans,” he said. “It would help them get the credit they need, and eliminate capital gains taxes on key investments so they have more incentive to invest right now. And it would accelerate $55 billion of tax relief to encourage American businesses, small and large, to expand their investments over the next 14 months.”

He labeled the GOP opposition to the bill as a “partisan minority.”

“Unfortunately, this bill has been languishing in the Senate for months, held up by a partisan minority that won’t even allow it to go to a vote,” he argued. “That makes no sense. This bill is fully paid for. It won’t add to the deficit. And there is no reason to block it besides pure partisan politics.”

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