Reid Predicts GOP Votes for Stimulus

Posted January 29, 2009 at 12:38pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) predicted Thursday that the $825 billion-plus economic stimulus bill working its way through Congress would ultimately clear with some bipartisan support.

“I am confident that we’re going to get Republican support on this bill,” Reid said at a press conference. “If we don’t, it’s not our fault for trying.”

A handful of Senate Republicans have already said they are likely to vote for the package, but most have objected to the massive spending package, despite the inclusion of more than $275 billion in tax-relief provisions. All 177 House Republicans and 11 Democrats voted against that chamber’s version of package on Wednesday evening.

Reid acknowledged flaws in the House-passed measure, but he said conference committee negotiations between the two chambers would produce a deal that would garner more GOP votes.

President Barack Obama “will see a number of House Republicans that will vote for whatever we do in the conference,” Reid said.

He added, “Is everything that we have in this perfect? Of course not. And that’s why we’re going to have a bill that’s different from the House. But they are both good packages. They both are directed toward the same thing, bringing about change in this country’s economy.”

Senate Republicans, in a dueling press availability, signaled that very few GOP votes are in the offing for the stimulus package if it continues along its current legislative course.

Complaining that Republican amendments to the package have been rejected by the Democratic majority in committee, a collection of GOP Senators said the bill will not accomplish its objective of stimulating the economy and creating jobs, and should therefore be defeated.

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), referencing recent comments by Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that Democrats won the November elections and have the right to pass legislation as the see fit, suggested that his Conference is not only unhappy with the stimulus product but the process as well. Kyl declined to rule out employing parliamentary maneuvers to put the breaks on the bill to try to make it palatable to the GOP.

“Republicans have appreciated the president’s outreach to present ideas. But we are too often met with this response: ‘We won, and therefore we’re going to do it our way,’” Kyl said. “I don’t think any of us are of the view that we should not act in important ways to deal with the economic crisis that is upon us … The question is, what do you do that will work?”

Regardless of whether Senate Republicans try to delay the measure, Reid reiterated his vow to cancel the scheduled Presidents Day recess if the bill is not completed by Feb. 13.

“We’re going to work until we complete the legislation. I’m not going to have a recess until the president has a bill on his desk to sign,” Reid said.