Democrats Losing Patience With GOP Opposition to Stimulus

Posted February 6, 2009 at 11:23am

With the clock ticking on Congress to pass time-sensitive economic stimulus legislation, House Democratic leaders signaled Friday that they are losing patience with GOP opposition.

“Bipartisanship does not mean that Republicans get to write half of every bill that comes out of Congress. That’s why we have elections,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told Democrats Friday at their party retreat in Williamsburg, Va.

Hoyer warned Democrats about the “misguided notion of partisanship” being espoused by Republicans. Amid the economic crisis, voters sided with Democratic ideas on how to turn the economy around, he said, and Democrats “would be swindling them if we wrote legislation that ignores that fact.”

One Democratic aide at the retreat credited the GOP with doing a better job of swaying public opinion on the stimulus plan, even though the Republican message is wrong.

“Once again, we’ve let the Republicans frame the issue and debate, which they do very well. When you’re absolutely unconstrained by the truth, you can be very persuasive,” said the aide.

Not all House Democrats have been pleased with the way party leaders have put together the multibillion-dollar stimulus plan, both in process and in substance.

But in a nod to fiscal conservatives and committee leaders frustrated at being bypassed in bill negotiations, Hoyer vowed that the House will return to “two very important principles” once Congress passes the stimulus bill: pay-as-you-go budget principles and the regular order of legislating.

Hoyer’s remarks come on a day when new job figures point to a 7.6 percent unemployment rate, and 598,000 jobs lost last month, the most since 1974. House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said these figures alone should motivate Republicans to “stop their hyperpartisan sniping at the recovery package.”