Obama to propose $300 billion to jump-start jobs
An AP-GfK survey last month put overall support for Congress at 12 percent - the lowest level ever in the survey's history.
The tea party has also been hurt, according to the same poll, which found that 32 percent of those surveyed have a deeply unfavorable impression of the movement that helped give Republicans control of the House in the 2010 elections.
In their letter to Obama, Boehner and Cantor wrote that neither party would win all it wants from the coming debate over jobs legislation. "We should not approach this as an all-or-nothing situation," they said, striking a conciliatory tone in the first moments of a post-summer session of Congress.
But it was unclear what, if any, concessions they were prepared to make. "We are not opposed to initiatives to repair and improve infrastructure," they wrote, saying they favor repeal of a current requirement for 10 percent of highway funds to be spent on items such as museums or bike trails.
But they did not say they would support any additional funding for construction, and aides declined to provide any additional details.
Boehner and Cantor also said the House was ready to pass free trade agreements negotiated with Colombia, Panama and South Korea measures, which they noted the White House estimates would create 250,000 jobs.
The administration wants the trade deals approved simultaneously with legislation to provide job training and other benefits for workers who lose their job to imports, and the letter from the Republican leaders promised they would consider such measures rather than pledging to pass them.
There was maneuvering on another front during the day. Democrats won approval in a Senate subcommittee for legislation adding $6 billion in spending to pay victims of Hurricane Irene and past disasters dating to Hurricane Katrina, including $4 billion for the 2012 budget year.
Republicans did not object, even though the legislation did not include other cuts to offset the cost and the new spending would exceed levels permitted in a sweeping compromise passed last month to cut future deficits by nearly $1 trillion over a decade.
It is unclear when the measure will come to the Senate floor, and whether Republicans will attempt to offset the increase when it does. In comments in recent weeks, Cantor has said any increase must be offset.
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