Ryan Holeywell is a staff writer at GOVERNING.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
White House officials declined to say whether they believe Congress will pass the president's jobs bill or reach an agreement on deficit reduction during an interview at a conference Wednesday.
The comments -- or lack thereof -- would seem to suggest that the administration isn't particularly confident that Congress will act on two efforts the president considers crucial.
When asked by CBS News journalist Norah O'Donnell whether he expects the congressional super committee to achieve its task of finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit savings by next month, White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley wouldn't make a prediction. Still, Daley says he believes lawmakers on the 12-members committee are "sincere."
"I think [the committee] is well-intentioned," Daley said. "I think the membership are truly the leaders of Congress. If they can't do something bold, that would be another damnation of the system, and that would be unfortunate."
Daley also addressed Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's comments Tuesday in which he said the U.S. economy is "close to faltering." Daley didn't try to paint a much rosier picture.
"I think it's pretty obvious that the expectations in the first half of this year for a stronger second half, and a stronger 2012, are not going to be fulfilled," Daley said. "That's one of the reasons the president put together the American Jobs Act in order to try to create economic growth and jobs."
But another administration official failed to signal confidence that Congress would pass that legislation, despite the president's many pleas to senators and representatives last month imploring them to do so.
NBC's David Gregory asked White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett whether she expects Congress to pass the president's jobs plan, which some have speculated is unlikely to happen. "We'll see," Jarrett simply said.
But even if federal lawmakers do shoot down the bill, the administration will continue its advocacy for the legislation. "If they don't act next week, we're going to keep pushing," Jarrett said.
Daley and Jarrett spoke at the Washington Ideas Forum, a two-day event in Washington, D.C., featuring interviews with journalists, politicians and business leaders.
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