U.S. President Barack Obama Saturday praised Congress for passing free trade deals and criticized congressional Republicans for "lack of action" on jobs bills.
In his weekly radio and Internet address -- recorded in Detroit Friday during his visit with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to a General Motors Co. plant -- Obama said the free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, passed with bipartisan support in the House and Senate, "will be a big win for our economy."
"So it was good to see Congress act in a bipartisan way on something that will help create jobs at a time when millions of Americans are out of work and need them now," he said.
"But that's also why it was so disappointing to see Senate Republicans obstruct the American Jobs Act, even though a majority of senators voted 'yes' to advance this jobs bill," the president said.
Senate Republicans voted to block the bill from proceeding to debate.
"We can't afford this lack of action," Obama said. "And there is no reason for it. Independent economists say that this jobs bill would give the economy a jump start and lead to nearly 2 million new jobs. Every idea in that jobs bill is the kind of idea both parties have supported in the past."
Citing polls indicating public support for "the proposals in this jobs bill," Obama accused House Republicans of "picking ideological fights" instead of working on unemployment.
"They're seeing if they can roll back clean air and water protections," he said. "They're stirring up fights over a woman's right to make her own health care choices. They're not focused on the concrete actions that will put people back to work right now.
Obama said votes will be held in coming weeks on other parts of the American Jobs Act.
"We're going to give them another chance to spend more time worrying about your jobs than keeping theirs," the president said.