GOP Demands Changes to Stimulus Bill as Senate Begins Debate

President Obama is stressing bipartisanship when it comes to the $900 billion economic stimulus plan being considered in the Senate, and he may get it -- in unity of opposition.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Sunday he "can't believe that the president isn't embarrassed about" the stimulus packages that have passed the House and the Senate appropriations and finance committees.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will meet with congressional leaders at the White House on Monday afternoon in an effort to press Congress to move swiftly on the economic stimulus package.

On Sunday, Obama said he was confident Republicans will come around to support the final version of the legislation, repeating what his top aides and officials have been telling reporters in recent days, that the final package would be close to its objectives -- to save or create 3 to 4 million jobs -- and Republicans would be able to back it.

The Senate is set to take up the debate on the plan today and Republicans insist it won't go through in its current form. 

"It'll need to change if it'll do any good. I mean, things like $150 million honey bee insurance and $650 million to buy government employees cars is not what the American public had in mind," McConnell said on CBS' "Face the Nation." 

Republicans appear to have the support of some Democrats, including North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad, head of the Budget Committee, and Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson.

"As it stands it would be very hard for me to vote for this package, because I don't think it is fully targeted, timely and temporary," Conrad said. "I think there is widespread dissatisfaction with the package that came over from the House."

Senate Republicans are offering an alternative bill as early as Monday. It shifts the balance more toward tax cuts and less on spending, and targets the housing market as key to the economic turnaround.

"I think you have to start from scratch and reconstruct this to start with the problem that created the entire cascade of events that have occurred here, the housing collapse," said Sen. Jon Kyl, the Republican whip. 

Conrad agreed. 

"Too little is being done about housing, which is central to the crisis," he said.

But Democratic leaders say the time for delay has passed. The nearly trillion dollar plan represents about 6.5 percent of the gross domestic product of America, said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the Senate Democratic whip. 

He said that size package is needed to dig the economy out of a deep hole. "We have to put enough water on this fire to put it out. Throwing a tea cup of water at it means it will return tomorrow, to face it again," he said during a discussion with Kyl and moderator Chris Wallace on "FOX News Sunday."

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., agreed that more could be done in the area of housing, but said tapping the remaining $350 billion from the financial bailout fund would be a more likely way to pay for mortgage relief.

Democrats add that tax cuts alone won't keep firefighters, teachers and construction workers on the job. They say their bill gives states the money to fill some budget holes and start building roads and bridges. They also point to tax cuts for individuals and businesses, and insist a package must be passed.  

"This is not another bill, this is not another political debate, this isn't something that we can just dismiss at the end of the week and move on and do something else if this doesn't work. We're facing one of the most serious economic crises in our nation's history," Durbin said.

While Obama has stressed bipartisanship in the process, all House Republicans were joined by 11 Democrats in opposing the House package

If it's going to get bipartisan support in the Senate, "you have to change some of the provisions that are in there," said Nelson, who noted he has spoken with colleagues on both sides of the aisle who are concerned with several of the spending provisions. He said many of the spending programs are valuable, "they just don't belong in the stimulus package." 

The stimulus package may also run into problems being implemented. A Congressional Budget Office analysis says some agencies may not be equipped to handle that flood of money and will have to put off spending it for a year or two. 

That's a problem because the key to a stimulus package is to pump it into the system as quickly as possible.

FOX News' Caroline Shively contributed to this report.