By Daniel Strauss - 10/11/11 01:08 PM EDT
White House economic adviser Gene Sperling predicted there would be "overwhelming" Democratic support for President Obama's jobs legislation but wouldn't say whether the legislation would pass.
"This has overwhelming Democratic support. You're going to see tonight an overwhelming show of support from Democrats," Sperling said Tuesday on CNBC. "And what's going to be disturbing and surprising — and should be disturbing and surprising — to everyone is that with such a weak economy, that so many Republicans will choose to simply say no."
Sperling was asked whether the legislation would pass in the Senate. In response, he said it was up to Senate Republicans.
"Well, you're going to have to ask the Republicans," Sperling said. "If they choose to not give this the support that will allow this to get 60 votes, then if they choose to do that then we'll come back piece after piece and ask them, 'Why are you against a measure that would prevent teachers from getting laid off?' "
When pressed, Sperling stressed, "I believe that it will have overwhelming Democratic votes."
Obama unveiled the bill in early September. The measure is made up of an employee payroll tax cut extension, infrastructure spending, the establishment of a national infrastructure bank and added unemployment insurance benefits.
Democrats recently modified the funding mechanism in the bill from a tax hike on families making $250,000 or more to a 5.6 percent surtax on millionaires. The change appeared to be an effort to entice senators on the fence over supporting the legislation. Still, even if the bill passes the Senate, it's likely dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled House.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) echoed Sperling's prediction on MSNBC later Tuesday morning.
"Well, we're going to have the overwhelming majority of Democrats," Schumer said. "No question about that."
But Schumer said at most one Republican senator was likely to vote for the bill.
"You're going to see just about every Republican vote against a jobs bill," Schumer continued. "Maybe one and probably none, because they march in lockstep."
— This story was updated at 9:45 a.m.