By Peter Schroeder - 09/09/11 09:11 PM EDT
House Republican leaders told President Obama on Friday that they want the fine print of his jobs proposal, and they are reserving the right to change it as they see fit.
In a letter to Obama, House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) and other top GOP officials reiterated that the president's ideas "merit consideration," but first they need language specific enough to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
In addition, they want the president to detail what measures will be used to offset the costs of the package.
"We share your desire for bipartisan cooperation, and assume that your ideas were not presented as an all-or-nothing proposition, but rather in anticipation that the Congress may also have equally as effective proposals to offer for consideration," they wrote.
The letter comes a day after Obama made his jobs pitch to a joint session of Congress. Democrats made a full-court press on Friday to sell the proposal, with some House Democratic leaders demanding an up-or-down vote.
Obama took his show on the road, repeating to an audience in Richmond, Va., that Congress should quickly pass his proposal, which includes new tax breaks, infrastructure spending and an extension of unemployment benefits.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in floor comments Friday said the GOP would not simply swallow the proposal whole, and in their letter, the GOP said it would be looking for "modifications" to the president's plan they believe will be "more impactful or effective."
As an example, the GOP lawmakers said they could consider elements from previous bills passed by the Republican-controlled House that have since languished in the Senate, which is still controlled by Democrats. They also said their efforts to boost the economy — including by trimming regulations pushed by the White House — will continue to advance concurrently with the White House plan.
In addition, the president should expect the House GOP to divide his plan into several separate pieces of legislation. For example, they said three pending trade agreements are best handled as stand-alone bills.
The GOP response comes after House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and top Democrats began pressing Republicans running the House to begin lining up hearings on the president's plan and moving it forward.
Pelosi on Friday emphasized that she's hardly opposed to tweaking the bill. "A proposal has been put forth," Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. "Pass it, change it, make your own suggestions adding to it, but let's act upon it."
The White House indicated Friday that the package will be sent to Capitol Hill sometime next week.
This story was posted at 4:12 p.m. and updated at 5:11 p.m.