Partisan feuding has stalled action on major issues such as health care, but a series of jobs bills may be within reach because both parties see employment as the most pressing matter for voters.
Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York and GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah are advocating a tax credit for businesses that hire new workers. It would refund the employer's 6.2 percent share of the Social Security payroll tax to companies that hire employees this year.
Obama has expressed openness to the idea, although he proposed a different mechanism for refunding the employer's share of the Social Security tax for new workers. It would grant a $5,000 tax break for businesses that hire a new worker or increase wages or hours for current workers in 2010. The incentive would be tailored to appeal mainly to small businesses.
Obama said he also hopes the two parties can work together to trim the federal deficit, but that has proven extremely difficult in recent years.
Democrats control both chambers of Congress, but they cannot stop a Senate filibuster of bills if all 41 Republicans stand together.