Harry Reid: We've, er, got some other stuff to do before we get around to that jobs bill

But … we need to pass the bill right away.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Republicans won’t support President Barack Obama’s jobs plan, but he still wants them to vote on the sweeping $450 billion economic recovery effort.

“We are going to have the Republicans belly up to the bar to turn down this plan,” Reid said during a virtual town hall meeting with supporters Wednesday.

Reid said he won’t immediately take up Obama’s plan because the Senate must tackle other issues first. He didn’t specify which bills would receive priority over Obama’s economic solution.

What crucially important business must the Senate address before taking up the jobs bill that’s going to save America? The Times fills in the blanks:

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, has said he will put the bill on the legislative calendar but has declined to say when. He almost certainly will push the bill — which Mr. Obama urged Congress to pass “right now!” — until after his chamber’s recess at the end of the month; Mr. Reid has set votes on disaster aid, extensions for the Federal Aviation Administration and a short-term spending plan ahead of the jobs bill…

While Mr. Reid, who is known for trying to protect Democrats from casting tough votes, may be delaying the bill to insulate his party, the White House has a tacit agreement with Senate Democrats that Mr. Obama be permitted to take his American Jobs Act around the country to try to sell it to voters. The White House is to brief Democratic senators on the granular aspects of the proposal on Thursday.

Follow that last link and read the entire piece about Democratic skittishness towards Stimulus II, especially if you missed Ed’s post this morning. Bob Casey, from the evergreen swing state of Pennsylvania, is already talking openly about splitting the bill’s provisions up and trying to pass them separately even though Axelrod explicitly rejected the a la carte approach a few days ago on TV. Reid would love to bring O’s bill to the floor and force Republicans to filibuster it; that’s the whole point of the poison-pill tax provisions, after all. His problem is, if a bunch of Democrats vote no as well, it’ll destroy the whole “Republicans sabotaged the rescue of the economy” narrative they’re going for. And if they split the bill up and the new spending provisions pass but the tax provisions go down in flames, then suddenly they’ve outlaid another $450 billion without any mechanism to pay for it. Which, needless to say, is not a narrative that Big Spender wants right before the election. So Reid’s stuck, at least until he can huddle with his caucus and figure out a way to corner the GOP on this. That’s the important thing, you know.

As for Obama’s grassroots campaign to get Democrats to pressure Congress into passing the bill, it’s going exactly as well as you’d expect.