WASHINGTON (CNN) – A House Democratic aide told CNN Monday that if the Obama administration hopes to get an economic stimulus package through the House in January then they will have to "put a lot more meat on it" and "get people in and justify it."
The aide also said there have not been detailed discussions yet on details between the Obama team and the Hill: "They have been pretty light on their conversations with us about specifics,” says the source. “They take very seriously the notion of only one president at a time."
Given all the elements Obama is looking for in a major stimulus program, there are a lot of committees involved: Appropriations, Ways and Means, Financial Services, Transportation and Infrastructure. If the president-elect wants to have legislation on his desk when he takes office January 20, said this aide, "they need to get going on that right away."
Another House Democratic leadership aide told CNN there have been discussions about the components of a stimulus package, but no decisions or specific talks about the number or how much each element would cost: "we don't have a final number yet," said the source, who added that House Democratic leadership is looking at "several hundred billion dollars. The problem is serious enough that we need it to be big and bold."
Asked about passing a bill through so Obama can sign when he takes office, this aide said, "we're trying to see if we can do that" but added it "depends on exactly how big it is."
A third House Democratic aide echoes comments above, pulling back on any specific number on the size of the stimulus – “the feeling is you need to figure out what you want to do and then arrive at the number. That's the process that's going on right now.”
The source would not discuss a ballpark range, saying only it’s likely to be more than Obama talked about on the campaign trail, more than the $61 billion the House passed in September, more than the $150 billion discussed recently.
The goal is to get Obama a bill to sign “very soon after he is sworn in. I don’t know that it will be that day.”
This aide, who is familiar with the mood among the moderate and conservative Democrats in the House, said the very early read is that there will not be major complaints from these members about how to pay for the package, or its impact on the deficit: Given the dour economic mood, says the aide, people want to see action and that this package will include a “wide range of tax cuts for a broad swath of the middle class.”
The aide also said they believe they can pass the bill with Democratic votes, and aren’t counting on much support, if any, from Republicans.