Pelosi Denies Rift Over Stimulus

Posted January 11, 2009 at 11:08am

Updated: 12:25 P.M.

In an appearance on CNN’s Late Edition on Sunday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sought to minimize differences between Congressional Democrats and President-elect Barack Obama, saying it should be expected that Members would press their ideas for the stimulus bill that Obama will soon unveil.

“This is the natural legislative process,” Pelosi said. “People have strong views on certain proposals that they feel strongly should be in the legislation.”

Democrats in recent days have lodged objections to the amount of tax cutting likely to be included in the plan, and have pushed back against suggestions that the Obama transition team has not treated them as co-equals.

Pelosi said Obama officials have been “very receptive” to Democratic proposals.

“I’m so proud of the dialogue that is taking place,” she said. “The Obama administration will propose, Congress will work its will, we’ll come to terms, and we will have legislation before we leave for Presidents Day.”

Pelosi suggested that Democrats will continue to voice their differences with Obama. While noting that Democrats want to help Obama, she added, “It doesn’t mean we have erased any points of view in our mind.”

The Speaker acknowledged that the stimulus package could eclipse the $775 billion sum that had previously been expected. She blamed the failure to move it by Inauguration Day — the original plan — on the growing size of the package. But she reiterated that the package “has to be” done by the Presidents Day recess, which is set to begin on Feb. 14.

Pelosi also sought to justify efforts to win the support of Republicans as the package moves forward — even though she could probably pass it with just Democrats — saying that on “issues of this size, you really want as much legitimacy as possible — and sustainability.”

Pelosi ruled out including earmarks in the stimulus bill. Raising her right hand for effect, she said, “I can pledge that no earmarks . . . will be in the bill that passes the House.” Keeping special spending requests out of the legislation has been a key demand of Obama’s.

Pelosi also pledged that sometime during the 111th Congress, lawmakers will try to tackle the extraordinarily tricky task of reining in entitlement spending.

Pelosi also said she approves of the people Obama has chosen for his administration.

Asked about a suggestion by National Organization for Women President Kim Gandy that there will be too few women in the Cabinet, Pelosi said “we always want more,” but noted that Obama also has selected women to serve in critical posts just below Cabinet-rank.