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02-08-09, 11:32 AM #1
Senate GOP claims they were left out of the stimulus bill...so much for the President's bi-partisanship plan
Republicans took to the Senate floor Saturday to launch an attack on the deal struck late Friday, which is expected to pass an approximately $800 billion stimulus through the upper chamber.
Republicans complained that the deal — which Democratic leaders struck with three moderate GOP senators — left them out of the legislative process.
"This bill was put together, this compromise, and it resembles nothing I see as bipartisan," said Nebraska Sen. Mike Johanns.
"If you think about the dynamics of this, just less than four percent of the Congress participated in this on the Republican side," said Johanns.
"I think we've got some better ideas that could have been incorporated into this legislation if it had not been such a partisan exercise," added Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl in a floor speech.
But in his weekly radio address, President Barack Obama praised the deal – and said that Friday's job report showing steep January job losses was proof that Congress needed to move quickly to pass the legislation.
"Democrats and Republicans came together in the Senate and responded appropriately to the urgency this moment demands," Obama said. "The scale and scope of this plan is right. And the time for action is now."
The stimulus package is expected to come to the Senate floor for a vote on Tuesday afternoon. Obama has said he would like final Congressional package of the bill before the President's Day recess.
Friday's compromise removed around $100 billion in spending from the stimulus package, including $40 billion in funds that would have gone to aid to states and $20 billion for school construction projects.
Still, Republicans said Saturday that the compromise did little to ease their concerns over what they see as the excessive spending in the bill.
"I want to be on the record saying that simply is not enough. It's not good enough," Johanns said of the cuts.
"As we look through it, many of the things that were criticized before appear to still be there," added Kyl.
John Ensign, the chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, argued that the spending in the bill could set the country's economy back even further.
"If you don't get a trillion dollars right, you've made a massive mistake that you may not be able to recover from," said Ensign. "We should have taken our time and gotten this right."
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