Bush Urges Business To Work The Hill

During a meeting this morning with business owners, President Bush pulled a list of House members out of his pocket and asked the visitors to go to Capitol Hill to urge passage of a now $800 billion economic recovery package.

The meeting in the White House complex was just one component of an intense lobbying effort to get the measure passed in the House on Friday and signed by the president before global markets open next week.

The group meeting with Bush included a jeweler, an engine maker and an automobile supplier and was organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

In a conference call with reporters, the chamber’s chief lobbyist, Bruce Josten, said the Hill pressure and the $100 billion in Senate sweeteners added to the bill are having an affect.

“I’m not going to discuss counts. I think there has been a lot of movement toward passage of this bill,” he said.

“This job is like a door-to-door salesman right now,” he added, referring to the flurry of face-to-face meetings being held with lawmakers to learn, or verify, their votes on the new bill.

Josten said he wasn’t completely surprised when the measure went down in flames in the House on Monday since it was framed as a bailout for Wall Street investors.

But he sidestepped criticism that proponents of the measure were over confident.

“Look, we lost Monday,” he acknowledged. “In this game, sometimes part of the way to winning is losing to get there.”

“I have no intention of losing again,” he asserted. “We’re pushing and pressing and we’re playing hard.”

 - Jeanne Cummings