President-elect Barack Obama is reaching out to congressional leaders today. He started this morning meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Capitol Hill. The discussion, which lasted just under an hour, was dominated by talk of a massive economic recovery package and how to move it forward.
The president-elect and congressional Democrats hoped to have the recovery package passed and ready for Mr. Obama to sign right after inauguration January 20th. The realities of passing such a costly package in both the House and Senate, with bipartisan support, are not that easy though. Many lawmakers still feel the burn from supporting the unpopular $700 billion bailout bill in the fall and will want to tread carefully to make sure this money is spent wisely and will have a positive impact on the economy. Republicans are calling for hearings and a full debate. Speaker Pelosi acknowledged this morning that the debate will be "spirited."
Mr. Obama left Pelosi's office and was surrounded by tourists hoping for a glimpse of the president-elect. He waved and wished everyone a Happy New Year before kissing Pelosi goodbye and heading back to his Washington, D.C. transition office. Mr. Obama will be back on the Hill later this afternoon to meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and then with bipartisan leaders from both chambers.