WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama met with Democratic and Republican congressional leaders Friday in an effort to garner bipartisan support for an $825 billion stimulus package.
Already GOP lawmakers have raised objections to the bill, saying the legislation is too pricey. Today the new President is seeking to allay their fears.
Taking it Under Advisement
House Minority Leader John Boehner said he advised Obama on GOP plans to "get fast-acting tax relief in the hands of American families and small businesses, because, at the end of the day, government can't solve this problem."
After the meeting, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed that Republican leaders "had some constructive suggestions, which we'll review."
Before the meeting, Obama indicated his interest in hearing Republican's concerns.
"I know that it is a heavy lift to do something as substantial as we're doing right now," Obama acknowledged before the meeting. "I recognize that there are still some differences around the table and between the administration and members of Congress about particular details on the plan.
"But I think what unifies this group is a recognition that we are experiencing an unprecedented, perhaps, economic crisis that has to be dealt with, and dealt with rapidly."
Americans are finding it increasingly more difficult to find work.
Microsoft, Intel and Tyco Electronics are all slashing thousands of jobs. This comes as the number of new claims for jobless benefits spiked to 589,000 last week.
And final figures for 2008 show new home construction plummeted 33 percent from the year before.
"They expect and demand action to relieve the economic crisis they're experiencing it in their own families," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.
"We have to do everything in our power - Congress too - to get that package moving to get that money into the economy," White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
Tax Breaks Approved
The package was tweaked as it advanced through several House committees this week.
The Ways And Means Committee approved $275 billion in tax cuts - but some Republicans want more.
At their request, the President will meet privately with Republican leaders next week to discuss their proposals.
"We still think there's time to influence the final product," said. But time is running out.
Democratic House leaders expect to bring the plan to the floor for votes next week.
Geithner Confirmed as Treasury Secretary
Meanwhile, the man Obama wants overseeing the economic crisis, Timothy Geithner, has been cleared by a Senate panel - after apologizing for failing to pay $34,000 in taxes on time.
The full Senate is expected to confirm him Monday as treasury secretary.