President Barack Obama and majority Democrats are facing more resistance from congressional Republicans on economic recovery legislation. Republicans in the Senate, which will consider legislation after a House of Representatives, vote on Wednesday approving an $819 billion version, voiced opposition to spending proposals.
After the House approved its version with no support from minority Republicans, a group of Republican senators took to the microphones on Thursday to outline their concerns.
Saying no one disputes that passage of an economic stimulus is urgent, Senator Jon Kyl warned that Republicans oppose any effort to force through legislation that will not be effective.
"We have ideas that will really create jobs and help people and help get the economy moving again, we have been rejected in our attempts to get them considered. And if there is not a change in attitude as this legislation moves forward, unfortunately, it is the American people who are going to suffer from the Democrats' partisanship on this issue," he said.
Lawmakers expressed hope that Republicans, Democrats and the Obama administration can set aside partisanship to come up with final legislation that helps the U.S. economy.
But Senator Jeff Sessions says Republicans do not see signs that Democrats and President Obama will agree to major changes.
"Indeed, there is very little likelihood that we will have a substantial change. And so we need to resist this package with every strength that we have," he said.
The complaints mirror those heard on the floor of the House earlier in the week from Republicans who accused Democrats of blocking their proposals.
While he says Democrats are trying to rush the measure with what he called a "false deadline," Senator John Ensign appeared to have more hope that an acceptable compromise can be achieved.
"We don't need to have everything that Republicans want, but we at least have to feel good enough that the bill actually will grow the economy, will create jobs, and [that] it is just not a massive spending bill that will create this huge interest payment that we all have to pay," he said.
Failure to attract Republican votes in the House was a key topic in Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's weekly news conference.
Pressed on the issue, she rejected Republican assertions that she had spurned minority efforts at bipartisanship.
"We reached out to the Republicans all along the way, and they know it, and they know it," she said.
At the White House, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called Wednesday's House vote a big step forward, saying President Obama will continue to reach out to Republicans.
"We're going to continue to listen, strengthen the package," he said. "I presume that the package that comes out of the Senate will be different than the one that came out of the House and as I have said this will be a long and winding road to getting something on his desk."
Vice President Joe Biden expressed optimism about the chances that agreement can be reached on changes acceptable to all sides.
In a statement issued on Thursday, House Republicans said they remain committed to working with President Obama to find what they call "real economic solutions".
But they condemned what they called "political threats" in media reports by unnamed White House aides, including one quoting White House Press Secretary Gibbs, warning Republicans about political damage they could suffer by opposing President Obama's economic agenda.