Obama Pushes Hard for Stimulus Approval

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WASHINGTON -- Unemployment is rising and the economy is getting weaker, so President Obama is pushing harder than ever for his economic stimulus plan.

Some senators are trying to cut billions of dollars of spending out of the expensive bill. Still, a bipartisan deal may be hard to reach.

Click the player to watch CBN News Washington Correspondent John Jessup's report .

Despite their protests at the California state capitol in Sacramento, today thousands of state workers go on unpaid leave for one of two days a month, as the state tries to resolve its $42 billion budget shortfall.

For the average state employee, that amounts to about a ten percent salary cut.

"I'm going to have to cut cable, probably get rid of my home phone and just use my cell phone," said one state worker.

Jobless Rate Jumps

Nationally, the picture isn't much better.

Today the Labor Department announced January's jobless rate jumped to 7.5 percent, up three-tenths of a percent from the month before.

with analysts predicting as many as three million more jobs to disappear this year, President Obama is growing impatient.

At a House Democratic retreat, Obama took aim at Republicans and told Democrats to act quickly and get the bill on his desk by next week.

"The scale and the scope of this plan is right, the President said. "First of all, I found this deficit when I showed up. I found this national debt doubled, wrapped in a big bow, waiting for me as I stepped into the Oval Office."

"We're going to stop legislating tonight." said Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Senate Debate Scheduled Today

Lawmakers in the Senate take up their debate again today, after Thursday's long and often contentious exchanges.

"Zoos?," Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Ok. asked. "We're going to building zoos at this time in our country?"

"Look at this bill," said Sen. Lindsay Graham D-SoC. "This bill has got to be done by tonight."

"Holding up a bill, theatrical," said Sen. Barbara Boxer D-Ca. "Did you ever do that when George Bush was president and he sent down a bill twice as big as that?"

Behind closed doors, a bipartisan group of seventeen senators has been working to cut up to $100 billion from the plan that now tops $900 billion.

But it's unclear if the compromise to curry Republican support will work.

Spending Plan or Stimulus Package?

The GOP says Democrats are pushing a spending plan. not a stimulus. and they won't go along with it.

"If the leadership can peel off two or three Republicans, that's an accomplishment they will make," said Sen. John McCain,. "But it's not bipartisanship"

In an effort to show the White House is on top of the economy, today, President Obama is naming a new economic recovery advisory board as he continues to prod lawmakers to move forward with a stimulus bill.

"I urge all of us not to make the perfect the enemy of the absolutely necessary," the President said. "Understand that the scale and the scope is right."

But the president says time is running out to come up with the "perfect plan" and with more layoffs in the future he says the time for Congress to act is now.

*Originally aired February 6, 2009

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John Jessup

John Jessup

CBN News Washington Correspondent

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