- The Washington Times - Monday, January 12, 2009

President Bush on Monday requested that Congress authorize the White House to spend the second half of a $700 billion economic rescue package, after President-elect Barack Obama asked him to do so.

“This morning, President-elect Obama asked President Bush to formally notify Congress, on his behalf, of his intent to exercise the authority under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act to access the last tranche of $350 billion in funding for Treasury programs addressing the financial crisis,” said White House press secretary Dana Perino, in a statement e-mailed to reporters.

“President Bush agreed to the President-elect’s request. We will continue our consultations with the President-elect’s transition team, and with Congress, on how best to proceed in accordance with the requirements of the statute,” she said.

Mr. Bush told reporters at a 9:15 a.m. press conference that Mr. Obama had not yet asked him to request the funds from Congress.

Mrs. Perino told the Washington Times that Mr. Obama’s request to Mr. Bush came after the press conference ended.

One reason Mr. Obama may have asked Mr. Bush to request the funds with only a week left in his presidency is that Congress may vote against the authorization, which could require the president to use his veto powers to gain access to the money.

That would be the kind of clash Mr. Obama would be anxious to avoid so early in his presidency, and Mr. Bush has agreed to face that possibility himself.

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