Obama Argues for Stimulus Plan Passage

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WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama faces his first big test in Congress today -- the House's approval of his $825 billion stimulus package.

Just hours before the House roll call, Obama spoke to reporters in the East Room of the White House, saying the nation is at a "perilous moment" requiring swift and decisive action.

"We don't have a moment to spare," Obama said.

Click the player to watch the report from CBN News Erick Stakelbeck.

The bill is likely to be passed, but the party lines are still tough to break. The measure will then go to the Senate where the President hopes to get more backing from Republicans.

Before speaking to the press, Obama had an earlier Roosevelt Room meeting with business CEOs. Obama said the people running the companies that are the engine of the American economy are behind him.

When asked if he was sure he'd get get Republican support, he replied: "I'm confident we're going to get it passed."

The President also said that he and the corporate leaders "left our meeting confident that we can still turn our economy around."

Heavy on Entitlement Programs

The huge stimulus bill has some $275 billion for tax cuts, but it's also heavy on government spending for entitlement programs. roughly $550 billion for unemployment benefits, food stamps and other programs that Democrats say will benefit victims of the economic downturn.

That is usually a recipe for disaster among Republicans. But on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Obama urged GOP members of the House to put aside some of their core beliefs for now to help the country get back on its feet.

"I don't expect 100 percent agreement from my Republican colleagues, but I do hope that we can all put politics aside and do the american people's business right now," Obama said.

But although Democrats did agree to drop a $20 million program to renovate the National Mall, the vote is still expected to fall along party lines, with a only a handful of Republicans supporting it.

One House Republican says the president's message of post-partisanship has been lost on his Democratic colleagues.

"As I told the President myself, Democrats have completely ignored the President's call for bipartisanship," Rep. Mick Pence, R-Ind., said.

Democratic leaders respond that they're just doing the will of the people.

"We had an election that was about our different views," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "The American people agreed with us."

With the bill set to pass in the House, the President will now set his sights on the Senate. It is expected to gain more bi-partisan support when it comes up for a vote there next week. The Senate finance committee has adopted a suggestion from Senate Republicans to include an additional $70 billion in tax cuts in the bill.

"The impression we got is that the President was interested in our ideas," said Sen. Mitch McConnel, R-KY.

The Federal Reserve is taking steps to help average Americans as well. The Fed will keep interest rates down near zero and encourage more borrowing. It also plans to write down troubled mortgages to help keep people in danger of foreclosure in their homes.

Sources:  CBN News, The Associated Press

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Erick Stakelbeck

Erick Stakelbeck

CBN News

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