WASHINGTON – Angry Republican senators vowed Thursday to put up a fight against President Barack Obama's economic stimulus bill after the package passed the House of Representatives with no opposition support.
The senators denied they were indulging in political games against Obama, insisting that the 819-billion-dollar stimulus bill would prove a colossal waste of money without a greater emphasis on tax cuts and targeted investment.
"This isn't about playing the game, this is about doing something good for the American people," Republican Jon Kyl said at a briefing with several of his Senate colleagues, accusing the Democrats of ignoring their objections.
"It doesn't seem they were interested in the same kind of bipartisan outreach that the president was," Kyl said. "We are too often met with this response: 'we won.'"
Senator Bob Bennett said he had no desire to see the new president stumble in his first major legislative effort in Congress.
"As an American I want to see the right thing done regardless of who gets the credit," Bennett said. "I'm going to vote against this package because it won't work."
Senator Roger Wicker echoed his colleagues in calling for more time for debate, highlighting a full-page ad by more than 300 free-market economists in the Washington Post against the stimulus package.
"Ladies and gentlemen, a trillion dollars is a terrible thing to waste," he said. "Let's be careful we're not making the situation worse in an attempt to make it better."
A week-long charm offensive by Obama failed to win over even a single Republican when the House of Representatives voted 244-188 to pass the economic package late Wednesday.
The stimulus bill now moves to the Senate, where Republican stalling tactics could prove more troublesome for Obama.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi denied she had rammed the stimulus bill through against Republican objections.
"We've reached out to Republicans all along the way and they know it," she told reporters, citing the inclusion of Republican tax-cutting proposals and the party's participation in an open House debate.
"They just didn't have the ideas that had the support of the majority of the people in the Congress," Pelosi said.
"We need to act and we need to act now," she said, highlighting the latest news of job losses, adding she looked forward to marrying the House bill with the version eventually passed by the Senate.
But Republican Senator Jeff Sessions said the US public was only just realizing the enormity of the stimulus bill.
"I don't think the American people like this. I think after the ground shifts with public opinion, hopefully we'll be able to make some changes," he said.
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