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Senate Republicans Call for Changes in Stimulus Bill

President Barack Obama's $819-billion stimulus package passed the House of Representatives last week with no Republican votes. The opposition is warning the bill will face similar scrutiny on the Senate floor this week if concessions are not made.

Several Senate Republicans say they would not vote for the House version of the stimulus bill in its current form. The stimulus bill is the legislative centerpiece of President Obama's plan to kick start the lagging U.S. economy and create or save three million jobs.

The stimulus package will be the subject of intense debate this week on the Senate floor as many Republicans are calling for changes to the bill.

Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina told ABC's This Week program that the bill is unacceptable in its size and scope.

"This plan is a spending plan; it is not a stimulus plan," said Senator DeMint. "It is temporary and it is wasteful. We have to decide if we want to be a free-market economy and let the money stay there, or if we want to be a government-directed economy, which is where we are headed with this plan."

Republicans say they want more tax cuts, which currently make up about a third of the stimulus package, and more spending on infrastructure.

But Democratic Senator John Kerry, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, remained positive about the bill. Speaking on NBC's Meet the Press, he says there will be plenty of opportunity for bipartisan cooperation.

"None of this is being done behind closed doors; none of this is a secret," said Senator Kerry. "We have accepted Republican proposals, so there is a bipartisan effort here. I think those priorities happen to dovetail with what we need to do to put America back to work."

Democrats say the bill is headed in the right direction and with minor changes will receive more support among Republicans than it did in the House.

Not as certain is the confirmation of President Obama's pick for Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Daschle. The former South Dakota Senator faces new questions after it was reported last week that he failed to pay $128,000 in taxes while working in the private sector. He has since repaid those taxes with interest.

On CBS's Face the Nation, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky says the revelation caused him some concern.

"Well it does raise some questions about the vetting process," said Senator McConnell. "This is now the second time we have had a similar incident, first with the nominee for Secretary of the Treasury, and now with Senator Daschle. I think the administration ought to take a look at its vetting process."

McConnell was referring to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner's failure to pay thousands of dollars in taxes while working for the International Monetary Fund. Geitner repaid those taxes and was later confirmed for his post by the Senate.

For the most part, Senate Republicans said they would withhold judgment of Daschle until the Senate Finance Committee meets with him Monday.