Republicans are still open to supporting a stimulus package in the House, a GOP leadership aide tells the Huffington Post, despite reports that they will oppose it.
Reports by Politico and the AP that Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told House Republicans in a closed-door meeting to oppose the stimulus bill are accurate, the aide said. But Republicans will appeal to President Obama today to make changes to the House bill, holding out the possibility they will still support the final package.
Obama meets this afternoon with the entire Republican conference. "I think what our big moves will be today are to ask the President to help us. Help us make this plan better so that it will put Americans back to work," said Boehner before the meeting.
House Republicans have worked closely with Obama while the plan has been crafted, but have complained that House Democrats have been less open to their ideas than has the president.
"We're looking forward to the President coming today and having a dialogue with us about how we can have an economic recovery package that works for America. I applaud the President for dealing with this issue early on because America needs a plan that will work," Boehner said. "As you have heard, we have concerns that the plan House Democrats are going to bring to the floor will not work."
The chances that House Republicans can persuade Obama to pressure House Democrats to change their bill last minute are remote. A Democratic aide said, however, that it's "very likely" that Republicans will be able to offer a substitute bill as well as "several" of their own amendments.
House Republicans appear sensitive to criticism that they rejected the stimulus before meeting with Obama. Yet a Democratic aide said he doubted the sincerity of the Republicans' new openness. "Boehner already said he wouldn't vote for it, so why are they bothering to meet with the President if they've already decided they will oppose?" he wondered. "Will they even say what they want now or just constantly moving the goalposts?"