Mr. Obama will participate in two private sessions Tuesday afternoon with House and Senate Republicans.
“The goal is to seek their input. He wants to hear their ideas,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said, according to the Associated Press. “If there are good ideas –and I think he assumes there will be — we will look at those ideas.”
The Democratic-controlled House and the Senate are in the midst of modifying the package, which combines government spending with a series of tax cuts. Republican members of Congress have taken issue with the tax provisions and the high price tag, which would make it the largest single piece of legislation ever.
Many Republicans in Congress have also voiced concerns that the majority of the planned spending would not provide any immediate stimulus, Congressional Quarterly reported.
Two-thirds of money is currently slated for new spending aimed at jumpstarting the economy through unemployment aid and projects such as construction. The remaining money is allotted for individual and business tax cuts.
The House will likely vote on the stimulus package Wednesday, and is expected to pass it easily with the large Democratic majority. The stimulus could be brought to a vote within a few days in the Senate, where Republicans hold enough seats to mount a filibuster.
Stephen Farnsworth, a professor of political communications at George Mason University, told Congressional Quarterly that President Obama’s trip to the Hill is about more than sending a message to Congress.
“The real importance of this appearance is trying to convince the public that he is trying to meet the Republicans halfway and govern in a more bipartisan way,” he said.
One person who will be instrumental in helping the president try to rebuild the shattered economy, Timothy Geithner, was sworn in as treasury secretary late Monday, less than two hours after his confirmation by the Senate.
“Our agenda, Mr. President, is to move quickly to help you do what the country asked you to do … to restore confidence in America’s economic leadership around the world,” the former president of the New York Federal Reserve said at his swearing-in ceremony.
Geithner, who was confirmed by a 60-34 vote, had faced opposition because of accusations he failed to pay $50,000 in federal taxes in previous years. He inherits the worst economy in decades and a record budget deficit.
“His work and the work of the entire Treasury must begin at once,” President Obama said at Geithner’s swearing-in ceremony. “We cannot lose a day because every day the economic picture is darkening.”
Lawrence Summers, director of the White House’s National Economic Council, said Geithner soon will lay out a strategy for stabilizing financial firms, Bloomberg News reported.