President Barack Obama visits Capitol Hill Tuesday to try to build momentum for an $825 billion package he says is urgently needed to keep the U.S. economy from sinking into an even deeper recession.
But Obama's meeting with lawmakers comes after the president achieved a victory on the economic front: the confirmation of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. With his economic team in place, Obama hopes he can win passage of the stimulus plan by mid-February.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama's meetings with members of Congresss would be less negotiating sessions than a chance to gather input.
"He wants to hear their ideas. If there are good ideas—and I think he assumes there will be—that we will look at those ideas," said Gibbs.
The House may begin debate on the stimulus bill Tuesday, though any votes would not take place until Wednesday.
In the meantime, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced new rules to limit lobbying by companies that receive government financial assistancein one of his first moves after being sworn into office. The move comes one day after Geithner was confirmed in his post by the senate.
The rules restrict lobbyist contacts in connection with applications for or disbursement of the Treasury's $700 billion bailout program, the Treasury said in a statement.
"These new rules go beyond the approach taken under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act to date and will help ensure a new level of openness and accountability going forward," the Treasury said.
The rules will use as a model the protections that limit political influence on tax matters, and require the Treasury to certify each investment decision is based only on investment criteria and facts of the case.
The rules are being unveiled as Congress prepares to release the second $350 billion of the Troubled Asset Relief Program after widespread disappointment with the handling of the first half by former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.
Keep track of what Obama has been doing since taking office:
Day 7: Obama's New Climate Policies (Jan. 26)
- Obama told the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider California's request to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars, reversing the climate policies of former President George W. Bush. (Full Story)
- Timothy Geithner won confirmation as U.S. Treasury secretary and vowed to act quickly to protect the U.S. economy from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.However, some lawmakers were disturbed by Geithner's late payment of $34,000 in self-employment taxes to vote against the nominee even though they felt he was well suited for the job otherwise. (Full Story)
Day 5: Your Weekly Address (Jan. 24)
- In his first weekly address as President, Barack Obama discusses how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan will jump-start the economy. (Watch the video here)
Day 4: Stimulus Package by President's Day? (Jan. 23)
- President Barack Obama said Friday it appears Congress is "on target" to approve a massive new stimulus package by Feb. 16th, President's Day. Obama met with top Democratic and Republican leaders on Friday and said the stimulus package working its way through Congress would be only one leg of an "at least three-legged stool." He said the government needed to move "swiftly and aggressively" as the economy and the financial system struggle. (Full Story)
Auto industry supporters in Congress asked Obama to support another $25 billion in federal loans to help the industry make more fuel efficient cars, seeking over $4 billion in grants and loan guarantees. The White House said Obama and his advisers will evaluate the needs of automakers after reviewing their viability plans in mid-February. (Full Story)
Day 3: House Considers Obama’s Plan (Jan. 22)
- The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday began debating $20 billion in energy tax credits and related financial incentives that are in the Obama administration's plan to revive the American economy. (Full Story)
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the house next week would consider the $825 billion economic stimulus package sought by Obama. (Full Story)
- The Senate Finance Committee approved the nomination of Geithner to head the U.S. Treasury, overlooking concerns about his underpayment of some $34,000 in taxes and clearing the way for a final vote on his nomination in the full Senate. (Full Story)
- Obama, who worried after winning office that he would have to part with his BlackBerry because of security concerns, will get to keep the email device after all. (Full Story)
Day 2: Back to Business (Jan. 21)
- In a day flurry of activity, Obama set up shop in the Oval Office, summoned advisers to begin dealing with war and recession and ordered new ethics rules for "a clean break from business as usual." (Full Story)
- Obama froze salaries for top White House staff members earning $100,000 or more, about 100 people in all. (Full Story)
- In his phone calls to Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian and Jordanian leaders, Obama emphasized that he would work to consolidate the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. (Full Story)
- Obama imposed the New Freedom of Information Act rules, making it harder to keep the workings of government secret. (Full Story)
- Obama also imposed tighter ethics rules governing when administration officials can work on issues on which they previously lobbied governmental agencies, and banning them from lobbying the administration after leaving government service. (Full Story)
- Geithner testifies to the Senate Financial Committee and apologizes for his tax mistakes. He also comments on Obama’s economic stabilization plan. (Full Story)
Day 1: Inauguration Day (Jan. 20)
- The first African-American U.S. president swore to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution against a backdrop of a deep economic downturn, a trillion dollar federal deficit and fears of more bank losses. (Full Story)
- Wall Street ushered in the Barack Obama presidency with a record Inauguration Day slide amid fresh signs the global bank crisis was far from over. An index of bank stocks lost almost 20 percent on fears of more losses. The Dow fell over 300 points to end below 8,000. The S&P slid more than 40 points to finish around 800 and the Nasdaq tumbled over 80 points to close around 1,450. (Full Story)