Jan. 28, 2009— -- The House has approved President Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan, but the victory came without any of the Republican support that Obama hoped for.
The $819 billion stimulus bill passed the House 244 to 188, but not a single Republican voted for it. Eleven Democrats broke with their party and voted against the stimulus.
"I am grateful to the House of Representatives for moving the American Recovery and Reinvestment plan forward today," Obama said in a written statement released after the vote.
His statement didn't mention the failure to win Republican votes, but said, "What we can't do is drag our feet or allow the same partisan differences to get in our way. We must move swiftly and boldly to put Americans back to work, and that is exactly what this plan begins to do."
Now, the U.S. Senate will take up its own version of the bill and then the two versions will have to be reconciled.
Even before the vote, Obama predicted victory after meeting with 13 CEOs from companies such as Jet Blue, IBM and Motorola in his latest attempt to lobby support for the package of tax cuts and public works projects.
However, when asked whether he expected to get Republican support for the stimulus bill, Obama pointedly ignored the Republican part of the question.
"I'm confident we're going to get it passed," the president said.
In the end, despite visiting Republicans in Congress Tuesday, stripping out two provisions the GOP objected to, and inviting several Republicans for drinks at the White House this evening, Obama did not get a single Republican to vote for the bill.
Obama's efforts did win him some compliments from Republicans who figure they can make deals with the Democratic president when the bill goes to the Senate next week.
The Senate is designing a version that totals about $900 billion. Encouraged by Obama's outreach, both sides are hopeful that more Republicans will support the final version when differences in the two bills are negotiated by the House and Senate.
"The president was clear that he was going to continue to reach out to us, continue to listen to our ideas and I think we have to remember we're at the beginning of this process," House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, told "Good Morning America" today.
Those comments marked a softer tone from Tuesday morning, when Boehner and other Republican leaders tried to head off Obama's lobbying efforts by calling on Republicans to oppose the stimulus plan even before the president had met with them.
But Republicans came out of their meeting with Obama full of praise for his willingness to listen to them. And in the evening, Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, invited a group of Republican congressmen to a White House sit-down.
In addition, Obama leaned on Democratic leaders to withdraw two elements of the stimulus bill that had been ridiculed by Republicans -- an expansion of family planning funds for poor families and $200 million to resod the National Mall in Washington.
Those gestures haven't translated into votes by House Republicans, who applaud the bill's $300 billion in tax cuts, but object to much of the $500 billion meant to be spent on public works projects.
"What we're concerned about, some of the spending in this bill has nothing to do with creating jobs or preserving jobs," Boehner told "GMA."
"The bill that'll be on the floor today is a bill that has too much wasteful spending ... and buries our kids and grandkids under a mountain of debt," he said.
Senate GOP Wants 4 Percent Mortgages
Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the Senate minority leader, said he aims to get rid of more spending provisions when the bill hits the Senate, citing money in the bill to create trails for all-terrain vehicles and what he called "fish projects."
"Hopefully it will be more stimulus and less pork," he told CNN today.
McConnell argued that tax breaks for the middle class and small businesses should make up 40 percent of the bill, instead of the 20 percent that's in the House version.
He also proposed a new mortgage provision that would reduce mortgage interest rates to 4 percent, which McConnell said "would go right at the housing problem, which started all this."
A reduced mortgage rate would allow those struggling to keep up with their mortgages to refinance and lower their monthly payments.
The Obama administration's economic plan is a combination of tax cuts and public works spending that is meant to improve the country's infrastructure while also putting Americans to work.
The Republicans argue that the spending is excessive and won't help revive the economy as efficiently as tax cuts would.
But Boehner concedes that both plans are little more than theories.
"There are no books written about how to do this. There's no track to follow," Boehner said. "So we're at the mercy of a lot of very smart people who will be giving us advice about what we need to do."