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McConnell: Not So Fast On Obama Stimulus Plan

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voiced skepticism today about the emerging economic stimulus plan, applying a brake to Democratic plans of quickly passing up to $850 billion in spending and tax cuts soon after President-elect Barack Obama's Jan. 20 inauguration, The Post's Paul Kane reports.

"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," McConnell said in a statement expected to be released later today.

McConnell -- the most powerful Republican in Washington, based on the filibuster-proof level of 41 GOP Senate seats -- called for several congressional hearings on the stimulus plan and some undetermined safeguards to assure that the money is being spent wisely.

Obama's advisers and congressional Democrats have been huddling in the Capitol trying to craft a massive stimulus plan that could cost anywhere from $675 billion to $850 billion, while some economists are pushing for a total package worth more than $1 trillion.

Details are still emerging as key negotiators retreated for the holidays and aren't likely to reconvene face-to-face meetings until later this week.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) have boldly set a goal of passing the massive economic jolt as close as possible to Obama's swearing-in; House Democrats have considered passing the bill without it going through the committee process.

However, McConnell has the ability to dramatically slow the process, even block it if all 41 Republicans hold together in a filibuster.

McConnell specifically called for a week-long cooling-off period from when the bill is drafted until a vote, allowing time to dissect it for signs of "fraud and waste," he said.

Senate Democrats reiterated their contention that any quick passage of the legislation will require full acceptance by GOP leaders, who at this point have not been involved in negotiations.

"We want to pass it as quickly as possible. That will depend on whether we can get cooperation from Senate Republicans," said Jim Manley, spokesman for Reid.

Congress returns to start its 111th session on Jan. 6, two weeks before Obama takes office.

-- Frank Ahrens
The Ticker is Twittering!

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 29, 2008; 2:23 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Obama, stimulus plan  
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