ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports:
Speaking before the Senate vote was officially called, yet after the 68 votes needed to advance the bill, the president praised the Senate for moving forward on the package of tax cuts in the procedural vote this evening.
“I am pleased to announce at this hour the United States Senate is moving forward on a package of tax cuts that has strong bipartisan support,” Obama said in a surprise statement from the Brady Briefing Room of the White House, “And this proves that both parties can in fact work together to grow our economy and look out for the American people.”
Once a final vote is achieved in the Senate this evening the bill will move over to the House of Representatives. The president urged the House to “act quickly on this important matter.”
“I've been talking with several members of that body,” Obama said, “I recognize that folks on both sides of the political spectrum are unhappy with certain parts of the package, and I understand those concerns. I share some of them. But that's the nature of compromise: sacrificing something that each of us cares about, to move forward on what matters to all of us.”
The president said that taken as a whole the bill does some “very good things” for America’s economy and the American people.
“If there's one thing we can agree on, it’s the urgent work of protecting middle-class families, removing uncertainty for America's businesses and giving our economy a boost as we head into the new year.”
The statement lasted just two minutes and Mr. Obama did not answer any of the many questions shouted after him as he left the briefing room. It should be noted today’s surprise statement was the second time in two weeks that the president has visited the briefing room to pitch for passage of tax cuts, the last being Friday with former President Bill Clinton.