DALLAS, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama, speaking to a Texas audience Tuesday, openly challenged Republicans to explain what they don't like about his jobs bill.
The president is pushing hard for his American Jobs Act, but on the flight to Dallas, his spokesman reiterated Obama would be open to signing parts of the legislation if it doesn't reach his desk intact.
White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters the president wants to see a vote on the whole act, but has said he will then sign provisions "piece by piece" if that's how it comes to him.
In prepared remarks on the jobs legislation in Mesquite, the home of Eastfield College near Dallas, Obama said, "Yesterday, the Republican majority leader in Congress, Eric Cantor, said that right now he won't even let the jobs bill have a vote in the House of Representatives. He won't even give it a vote.
"Well I'd like Mr. Cantor to come down here to Dallas and explain what in this jobs bill he doesn't believe in," the president said in the remarks supplied by the White House. "Does he not believe in rebuilding America's roads and bridges? Does he not believe in tax breaks for small businesses, or efforts to help veterans?"
Part of Obama's jobs plan would rehire unemployed educators, like Kimberly Russell, the laid-off social studies teacher who was scheduled to introduce him on stage when he speaks in Dallas.
"Mr. Cantor should come down to Dallas, look Kim Russell in the eye, and tell her why she doesn't deserve to get a paycheck again," Obama said. "Come tell her students why they don't deserve to have their teacher back."
The president said the Virginia Republican should also explain his position to Dallas construction workers and small business owners "why you'd rather defend tax breaks for millionaires than tax cuts for the middle-class. And if you won't do that, at least put this jobs bill up for a vote so that the entire country knows exactly where every member of Congress stands."
In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., thwarted an effort by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to add the jobs bill as an amendment to legislation on Chinese currency, The Hill reported. Reid, using a procedure called "filling the tree," declared the currency bill closed for amendments.
McConnell said he was simply trying to do what the president wants.
"I think the president of the United States, whose polices I generally do not support ... is entitled to know where the Senate stands on his proposal that he has been out talking about ... and suggesting that we are unwilling to vote on it," McConnell said.
Reid said voting on the jobs bill with no debate is "ridiculous on its face."
Obama also had two campaign fundraisers at the Sheraton Hotel in Dallas.
He was also scheduled to fly to St. Louis for campaign events at the Renaissance Hotel and a private residence before returning to Washington.