Senate moderates from both political parties worked to cut as much as $100 billion from President Barack Obama urged lawmakers to “rise to this moment.”legislation and clear the way for the bill’s passage as
With the economy showing fresh signs of weakness, Obama said Thursday, “The time for talk is over. The time for action is now.”
Senate Democratic leaders said they hoped for passage of the legislation by Friday, and prospects appeared to hinge on agreement to a series of changes that would trim the size of a bill costing well over $920 billion.
Senate centrists met privately, and emerged saying they had made progress toward an accord.
“The president made a strong case for a proposal that would be in the neighborhood of $800 billion,” said White House on Wednesday., R-Maine, who met with Obama at the
By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent
Obama has issued a series of increasing dire warnings in recent days as the Senate debated the legislation at the heart of his economic recovery plan, and Thursday was no different.
Appearing before employees at the Department of Energy, he called on lawmakers to “rise to this moment. No plan’s perfect,” he said. “There have been constructive changes made to this one over the last several weeks. I would love to see additional improvements today.”
Democratic congressional officials said the president had invited some of the Senate moderates to the White House to discuss possible changes in the measure.
In an op-ed piece in The Washington Post, the president argued that each day without his , Americans lose more jobs, savings and homes. His message came as congressional leaders struggle to control the huge that’s been growing larger by the day in the Senate. The addition of a new tax break for homebuyers Wednesday evening sent the price tag well past $900 billion.
“This recession might linger for years. Our economy will lose 5 million more jobs. Unemployment will approach double digits. Our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse,” Obama wrote in the newspaper piece.
He rejected the argument that more tax cuts are needed in the plan and that piecemeal measures would be sufficient. His latest plea came on the same day the economy dealt with another dose of bad news: A big jump in jobless claims and another round of weak retail sales.
Initial jobless claims rose to 626,000, a 26-year high, the Labor Department said. And the number of claims by people continuing to apply for unemployment benefits reached a new record of nearly 4.8 million.
The housing tax break was the most notable attempt to date to add help for the crippled industry and gave Republicans a victory as they work to remake the legislation more to their liking.
“It is time to fix housing first,” Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said Wednesday night as the Senate agreed without controversy to add the new tax break to the stimulus measure, at an estimated cost of nearly $19 billion.
Three swing-vote senators met with Obama at the White House on Wednesday to discuss possible cutbacks.
For their part, Senate Republicans signaled they would persist in their efforts to reduce spending in the measure, to add tax cuts and reduce the cost of mortgages for millions of homeowners.