Lawmakers Shuttle Between Stimulus Meetings

Posted February 11, 2009 at 11:17am

Updated: 12:49 p.m.

House and Senate Democratic leaders will spend Wednesday bogged down in meetings among themselves and with key Republicans on the roughly $800 billion economic stimulus package.

Democratic conferees on the bill huddled in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office until about midnight Tuesday and agreed on a tentative maximum figure of $789.5 billion, according to a senior Democratic aide.

Among those filtering in throughout the hours-long meeting were Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.), House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Majority Whip James Clyburn (S.C.).

White House officials in the meeting included Rahm Emanuel, chief of staff to President Barack Obama; Phil Schiliro, Obama’s chief Capitol Hill liaison; and Rob Nabors, deputy director of the White House Budget Office. Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), one of the three GOP Senators backing the Senate compromise bill, was also in attendance.

Throughout the evening, White House representatives were shuttling back and forth to key Senate Republican offices to keep them updated on discussions, aides said.

The formal conference is set to meet for the first time 3 p.m. Wednesday. A final conference report could be on the House floor as soon as Thursday.

“We have to meet with GOP today to see where we are. I doubt we will vote tomorrow,” said a Democratic leadership aide early on Wednesday.

House Appropriations ranking member Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), one of the bill’s conferees, complained that he was left out of discussions and blasted Democratic leaders for holding a meeting “to negotiate this agreement in secret.”