WASHINGTON - Congressional Republicans objected yesterday to hurried consideration of President-elect Barack Obama's emerging stimulus proposal, questioning the economic value of many of the projects being floated for inclusion and voicing support for a more methodical process that might delay its passage well into February.
Concerned by the Democrats' push to enact the huge bill into law within days of Obama's Jan. 20 inauguration, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) and House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R., Ohio), issued calls for a lengthy vetting of the stimulus proposal, whose cost could top $850 billion when it is completed.
McConnell said in a statement, "As of right now, Americans are left with more questions than answers about this unprecedented government spending, and I believe the taxpayers deserve to know a lot more about where it will be spent before we consider passing it."
He coordinated the timing of his statement's release with Boehner, who questioned whether the plan would lead to "more pork-barrel spending that does nothing but give taxpayers' money to special interests and campaign contributors."
Neither GOP leader said outright that he would oppose the legislation, but Republicans, particularly McConnell, can at least slow the process, which could delay the infusion of federal dollars into the hemorrhaging economy.
Since mid-December, Obama's advisers and congressional Democrats have been crafting a stimulus plan that could cost $675 billion to $850 billion; some economists are pushing for a package worth more than $1 trillion.
Advisers have outlined a plan that would include about $200 billion in tax cuts for the middle class and businesses, and $350 billion or more to fund a large infrastructure and technology program.
Negotiators are not likely to reconvene for meetings until after New Year's Day. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) have set a goal of passing the legislation as close as possible to Obama's swearing-in.