ABC News’ Rick Klein and Matthew Jaffe Report: With the House motoring ahead toward a vote Wednesday on an $825 billion stimulus package, House Republicans emerged from a sometimes contentious meeting with President Obama asking for him to make good on his pledge of bipartisanship.
Specifically, they asked Obama to intervene in the legislative process to ensure that Republicans’ concerns about taxes and spending are reflected in the bill.
“The most encouraging statement I think the president made today was the fact that he had no pride of authorship in this bill. We take that to mean that tomorrow’s vote is only the first step in the process, only the beginning,” said House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va. “And we intend to take the president at his word and to continue to refine what it is that the House Republicans have put forth on Friday as our plan.”
Several House Republicans say they remain deeply skeptical of Obama’s promise to work toward a bipartisan measure. Though House Democrats have made some changes to reflect GOP concerns, the bill remains largely a product of Democratic lawmakers, and is expected to pass Wednesday with a small number of Republican votes.
Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence, R-Ind., said he told the president that the process has not been bipartisan to date.
“As grateful as we are for the president’s spirit, as I told him personally, House Democrats have completely ignored the president’s call for bipartisan cooperation,” Pence said. “And we hope, as this legislation and other legislation moves forward, that the president’s rhetoric will become a reality, in the way that we formulate the laws of this nation.”
House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, told his conference hours earlier that they should vote against the House bill. But he offered a glimmer of optimism in relaying Obama’s reaction to some GOP suggestions.
“I think the agreement over some of the tax cuts that are in the package — we’re clearly in agreement with that. It’s just that we don’t think the tax package is large enough,” Boehner said. “And, secondly, you know, the concern over spending — the president did say he has some concerns over some of the spending proposals that he sees in this bill.”