U.S. President Barack Obama says he expects Congress to approve a massive new package within weeks to help stimulate the battered U.S. economy.
Mr. Obama met today, Friday with top congressional Democrats and Republicans. He cautioned that the U.S. economy is facing an "unprecedented" crisis -- but said he expects his new recovery plan to create three million to four million new jobs. And he said Congress is "on target" to approve the stimulus package by mid-February. The president also stressed the need for increased accountability and transparency to ensure that government financial "bailout" money is used appropriately.
House Minority leader John Boehner, a Republican, told reporters outside the White House that there was unanimity in the meeting that action needs to be taken. But he expressed concern about the size of the bill and said that some items contained in the legislation have nothing to do with stimulating the economy.Republicans have questioned whether the proposed 825-billion-dollar stimulus plan crafted by Democrats will accomplish its goals of creating jobs and helping the economy.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says lawmakers are on track to have the bill ready for Mr. Obama's signature before a mid-February recess -- or she said there will be no break for the President's Day holiday. Mr. Obama also is meeting today with Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner, in afternoon talks closed to reporters.
Besides the economy, the new president has dealt with a host of pressing issues in his first days in office. He has ordered the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to be closed within one year, and named special envoys to the Middle East and the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.