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Senate GOP leader: Strip and refocus stimulus bill

  • February 1, 2009 - 9:51 PM

WASHINGTON - Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday the massive stimulus bill backed by President Obama and congressional Democrats could go down to defeat if it's not stripped of unnecessary spending and focused more on housing issues and tax cuts.

The Senate version of the bill, which topped out at nearly $900 billion, is headed to the floor for debate. The House bill totaled about $819 billion and earned no Republican votes, even though it easily passed the Democratic-controlled House. At some point lawmakers will need to compromise on the competing versions.

McConnell said the bill needed an overhaul because it doesn't pump enough into the private sector through tax cuts and because it allows Democrats to go on a spending spree unlikely to jolt the economy. He also complained that Democrats had not been as bipartisan in writing the bill as Obama had said he wanted.

"I can't believe that the president isn't embarrassed about the products that have been produced so far," McConnell said.

Obama said Sunday he is confident that Republicans will come around to support the final version.

"We are going to be trimming out things that are not relevant to putting people back to work right now," Obama told NBC's Matt Lauer during a live interview before the Super Bowl. " ... And I've done extraordinary outreach, I think, to Republicans because they have some good ideas and I want to make sure those ideas are incorporated."

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