President-elect Obama’s plan for a swift, record-setting economic stimulus is encountering its first resistance, with congressional leaders saying it could take a while to pass.
For the first time, Republicans began proposing alternatives to Obama's broad framework for creating or saving 3 million jobs over two years.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told host George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week” that perhaps the money for states should be a loan rather than a grant because it would “make them spend it more wisely.”
House leaders had hoped for a vote the week of Jan. 12 on a stimulus bill that’s likely to total $800 billion or so.
That way, the House could send the bill over to the Senate – or even get it to the new president’s desk – in time for the inauguration on Jan. 20. But House Democratic sources now tell Politico a vote the week of Jan. 19, or even later, is more likely.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said on “Fox News Sunday” that he doubts such a large bill can pass in time for the inauguration.
"It's going to be difficult to get the package put together that quickly to have sufficient time to be reviewed, debated and passed," Hoyer said. "We certainly want to see this package passed through the House of Representatives no later than the end of this month, get it to the Senate and get it to the president before we break ... [for Presidents Day in] early February."
And McConnell told Stephanopoulos that “to have it on his desk by January 20th – that’s just not a practical thing.”
McConnell said he will push for hearing rather than swift passage. He even suggested an alternative route to stimulating the economy than a massive new bill that’s started from scratch.
“If you want to do a bill immediately, … my recommendation is the omnibus appropriations bill is ready,” McConnell said. “These were nine bills that were not passed by October when they should have been passed. They’re ready to go, they’ve already been vetted by both sides, and we’ve passed them on an overwhelming bipartisan basis. And much of that spending, George, would be on things similar to what the president may be asking for.”
McConnell added that the GOP may seek changes to what the leader called “a trillion-dollar spending bill.”
“One approach that I think we ought to take a look at that I have a feeling won’t be in the recommendation of the administration is to make this money for states a loan rather than a grant,” McConnell said. “There are some states that are in good shape. … We want to be a part of the process. And it might make sense to lend the money to states. It will make them spend it more wisely.”