Senate Democratic leaders, sensitive to the notion that they are in any way slowing down passage of Obamas inaugural legislative measure, rejected the idea that the chamber has delivered a premature end to the commander in chiefs Capitol Hill honeymoon.
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said in an interview Wednesday that his Conference and Obama are on the same page and proceeding at a rate that will allow them to meet the presidents demand that they deliver the bill to his desk by Feb. 16.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) sidestepped the question of whether Obama should have received more support for his bill when it arrived in the Senate late last week, given that he is a fellow Democrat and newly inaugurated.
And she noted the unusual speed with which the bill is moving through both chambers of Congress and the extraordinary cooperation between the two branches of government that such movement requires.
We are just a few weeks into the session here, and we are passing a major economic recovery bill. I think its to everybodys credit that they are working very hard to get this done in a few short weeks, and I expect well get there, Murray said.
Senate Republicans, seizing on Obamas outreach to them, have criticized Senate Democrats for, until now, voting down most of their amendments, noting that the presidents civil entreaties are no substitutes for not including their ideas in the stimulus bill.
Still, a failure to include Republican ideas in the stimulus bill is not the driving force in their opposition.
Far more important, GOP aides say, is rising public concern that the bill will not provide any real stimulative effect on the economy, a concern that has provided the Senate GOP with the confidence to begin discussing the possibility of using procedural measures to block the bill.
When they jammed it through the House and told the Republicans to go pound sand, I think that sort of set the tone for this, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said. So far, this whole tone of bipartisanship has been, well, we will be nice to you, but were not going to include any of your ideas.
This is bad policy, Thune said. Weve got to make a stand on this.