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“If Congress needs just three weeks to pass a Wall Street bailout, then we should be able to count on our leaders to pass Main Street relief with as much urgency,” said Service Employees International Union President Andy Stern.

Even while telling him to try to keep spending in line, Republicans praised Mr. Obama for including tax cuts and promising transparency and accountability with the money.

“I think we are being listened to,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican. “I’m pleased with what the new president’s had to say so far.”

Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, said Mr. Obama’s stimulus plan “offers a promising start but needs to be closely scrutinized.”

He said the plan should stick to proven strategies, such as corporate tax cuts, to create jobs and expand the economy.

“Our economy needs help now more than ever before, but that doesn’t mean there should be a rubber stamp from Congress,” Mr. Ensign said. “It is our duty to take a careful and deliberate approach when crafting the stimulus plan so that it fits the bill of money spent wisely and effectively.”

• David M. Dickson contributed to this report.