Senate Republicans were careful to point out that their invite for Obama to visit was proffered in December, but they conceded that the talk today will center on what they want to see in the stimulus bill.
Though they vigorously opposed a Democratic-sponsored housing bill last summer, Republicans now appear set to draw their line in the sand over the issue. One senior Senate GOP aide said Republicans were coalescing Monday evening around a plan to demand that Obama and Congressional Democrats reconfigure the stimulus to help mitigate foreclosures and spur buyers to invest in new homes.
Republicans are increasingly concerned that the stimulus bill is leaving the housing crisis out of the equation, the aide said.
House Republicans said they are grateful for Obamas appearance today, but that it comes on the eve of Pelosi trying to shove what they consider an odious bill down their throats.
Democrats in both the Senate and House are moving ahead at full speed without much, if any, Republican input, the House GOP leadership aide said. The problem that the president has is that his leaders in both chambers are not willing to take any cues from him to stop the process and make changes.
Though that may be a more valid complaint in the House, given Pelosis plan to vote Wednesday on her package, one Senate Democratic leadership aide said that Republicans have been consulted and will have another opportunity to put their stamp on both the tax and spending portions of the Senate version at dueling markups today in the Senate Appropriations and Finance committees. Then, the aide said, they will have more chances to change it on the Senate floor next week.
Hopefully, thats going to go a long way to satisfy some of the concerns by Republicans, the aide said.
Of course, the Senate markups could work against Democrats if they load up the bill with more spending and not more tax breaks.
You can expect that if the Senate bill, after its marked up ... looks like the House bill, youre not going to see a whole lot of Republican support, another senior Senate GOP aide warned. What remains to be seen is whether the presidents vision of bipartisanship can be accomplished by Democrat leaders in Congress.