WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama met face-to-face Tuesday with congressional Republicans who have been chafing over parts of a $825 billion plan to pull the country out of recession, and he urged lawmakers to "keep politics to a minimum" and quickly approve the measure.
"The statistics every day underscore the urgency of the economic situation, and the American people expect action," the new Democratic president said in brief remarks between private meetings with House and Senate Republicans at the Capitol. "I don't expect 100 percent agreement from my Republican colleagues, but I do hope we can put politics aside."
Obama made his first trip to Capitol Hill since his inauguration a week ago, aides said, to seek comments from Republicans who have been threatening to oppose the measure over what they call insufficient tax cuts and excessive spending.
"I think we both share a sincere belief that we have to have a plan that works," House GOP leader John Boehner said after his rank and file met with Obama to voice concerns. Added Rep. Eric Cantor, the No. 2 House Republican: "The most encouraging statement ... was that he had no pride of authorship in this bill."
Hours before the meeting, officials say, the two GOP leaders had sought at a closed-door meeting with Republicans to rally opposition to the White House-backed measure, which is set for a vote Wednesday. Both men said the legislation contains too much wasteful spending that will not help the economy recover from its worst nosedive since the Great Depression, said the officials, who described the session on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to disclose the discussions.