Partisan Splits Pop Up on Stimulus

Posted January 23, 2009 at 10:52am

Democratic leaders emerged from a meeting with President Barack Obama on Friday confident that the massive economic stimulus package Congress is considering will be completed by the Presidents Day deadline, even though Republicans are insisting on changing provisions in the measure. “Working with the Republicans, we’ll have it done by Presidents Day,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said after the meeting. “We’ll get it done,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he too thought the measure could be finished. But McConnell and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) noted that they had outlined during the meeting new tax cuts that they want included in the package. Boehner said Republicans had another meeting on tap with Obama next week, but that with the legislation moving quickly GOP leaders felt they had to get their ideas before the president sooner and so requested a meeting with him this week. Boehner also expressed alarm at suggestions that the $825 billion package might grow and criticized what he characterized as wasteful measures, pointing to spending on condoms. Nevertheless, both sides described the meeting positively and indicated they want to work together to move the bill forward. In a sign that work may need to be done to bring the two sides together, a Boehner spokesman asserted after the session that Democrats have not been listening to Republicans as they craft the package. “Outside of the White House, Speaker Pelosi just claimed that Republican voices have been heard in discussion of the House Democrats’ trillion-dollar spending bill,” the spokesman said in a statement. “That is simply not true.”