House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that while critics may quibble with some elements of spending in the President Barack Obama's $819 billion economic rescue plan, Democrats were willing to act - and Republicans were not.
Discussing the plan that the House approved on a strictly party line vote, Pelosi acknowledged Republican criticism that large sums of money are set aside for favored Democratic programs such as aid to education and Medicare. But she said "we are definitely stepping up to the plate to say we'll be accountable."
"Republicans asked for several things so that they could participate in the process, and we gave them all of the opportunities they asked for," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CBS News Early Show co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez.
"But it serves their purpose, when you're failing on the policy argument, you talk about process. And after that, you talk about personalities. They are failing on the policy aspects," Pelosi told Rodriguez in the exclusive interview Wednesday.
Meanwhile, a top Republican congressional aide says the economic stimulus measure could steer government checks to illegal immigrants.
Republican officials are concerned that the Democratic-written legislation makes people who came to the United States illegally eligible for tax credits of $500 per worker and $1,000 per couple.
A House-passed version of the bill and one making its way through the Senate both disqualify nonresident aliens from receiving the credits. But neither requires a worker to have a Social Security number to get the credits.
An economic aid measure enacted in February 2008 that sent rebates to most wage earners required that people have valid Social Security numbers in order to get checks.
Mr. Obama's stimulus legislation is headed for the Senate after a surprisingly partisan vote in the House of Representatives, in which Republicans united in opposition.
Mr. Obama hailed his recovery plan, saying it would "save or create more than three million new jobs over the next few years."
During Senate debate next week the measure is expected to pick up at least some Republican support. But Obama's hopes of changing Washington's partisan culture went unmet despite the popular president's separate high-profile meetings on Capitol Hill on Tuesday with House and Senate Republicans.
"This recovery plan will save or create more than three million new jobs over the next few years," the president said in a written statement released moments after the House voted. He later welcomed congressional leaders of both parties to the White House for drinks as he continued to lobby for the legislation.
Earlier, Mr. Obama declared, "We don't have a moment to spare" as congressional allies hastened to do his bidding in the face of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The increasingly troubled economy is the first major test of Mr. Obama's presidency. How he handles the volatile situation, and the effect of his stimulus package on the economy, could set the tone for his first year in office, if not his entire term.
marked merely one of several steps for the legislation, which Democratic leaders have pledged to deliver to the White House for Obama's signature by mid-February.
Already a more bipartisan - and costlier - measure is taking shape in the Senate, and Mr. Obama personally pledged to House and Senate Republicans in closed-door meetings on Tuesday that he is ready to accept modifications as the legislation advances.
Officials believe once the bill gets through the Senate - where they expect there'll be more cooperation - some house Republicans, having already made their point, will wind up voting for the new version of the bill, reports CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante.
The House's stimulus measure attracted criticism from Republicans and, privately, from some Democrats for spending billions of billions of dollars on Democratic favorites like education despite questions as to whether they would really put people to work.
"We want to see a stimulus bill that actually is a stimulus bill, a bill that will not only create new jobs but that will preserve those that we have," Rep. Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican, told CBS News.
But within a quarter-century, the banking industry wobbling despite the infusion of staggering sums of bailout money and states struggling with budget crises, Democrats said the legislation was desperately needed.
The House plan largely reflects Mr. Obama's desires, but after zero Republican support, he suggested the House plan was hardly perfect.
"I hope that we can continue to strengthen this plan before it gets to my desk," Mr. Obama said.
The 244-188 House vote registered 177 Republicans unanimous in opposition, along with 11 mostly conservative Democrats.
The program would send tens of billions of dollars to the states, which confront deep budget cuts. That money marks an attempt to ease the recession's impact on schools and poor people receiving Medicaid health coverage.
Money would also go toward school construction, road building and other provisions. There are big investments toward Mr. Obama's campaign promise of creating jobs that can reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil.
The centerpiece tax cut calls for a $500 break for single workers and $1,000 for couples, including those who don't earn enough to owe federal income taxes. There are also tax breaks for businesses making investments in equipment and renewable energy production.
Republican House leader Rep. John Boehner said the measure "won't create many jobs, but it will create plenty of programs and projects through slow-moving government spending."