WASHINGTON (AP) President Barack Obama called for a major new burst of federal spending Tuesday, perhaps $150 billion or more, aiming to jolt the wobbly economy into a stronger recovery and reduce painfully persistent double-digit unemployment. Despite Republican criticism concerning record federal deficits, Obama said the U.S. has had to "spend our way out of this recession" with so many people out of work but insisted he was still mindful of a need to confront soaring deficits. More than 7 million Americans have lost their jobs since the recession began two years ago, and the jobless rate stands at 10 percent, statistics Obama called "staggering." Congressional approval would be required for the new spending. "We avoided the depression many feared," Obama said in a speech at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. But, he added, "Our work is far from done." It was the third time in a week the president had presided over a high-profile event on jobs, responding to rising pleas in Congress that he spend more time discussing unemployment as midterm election season draws near. Obama proposed new spending for highway and bridge construction, for small business tax cuts and for retrofitting millions of homes to make them more energy-efficient. He said he wanted to extend economic stimulus programs to keep unemployment insurance from expiring for millions of out-of-work Americans and to help laid-off workers keep their health insurance. He proposed an additional $250 apiece in stimulus spending for seniors and veterans and aid to state and local governments to discourage them from laying off teachers, police officers and firefighters. He did not give a price tag for the new package but said he would work with Congress on deciding how to pay for it. On Capitol Hill, estimates of a potential jobs bill range from $75 to $150 billion, said Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House. "100 billion, 150 billion, 75 billion those are all figures that are being talked about," Hoyer told reporters.