Gregg Expects to Vote 'No' on Stimulus

ABC News' Teddy Davis reports:

Barack Obama's one-time pick to run the Commerce Department said Friday he expects to vote against the president’s stimulus package when it comes to a vote in the United States Senate.

"I presume I will be, yes," Gregg told CNBC's "Squawk Box" when asked if he would be voting against the stimulus. "I haven't made a final statement on that, but that's philosophically where I probably am."

Gregg discussed his inclination to vote against the president's stimulus plan one day after announcing that he was withdrawing his name from consideration to be United States Secretary of Commerce.

In a written statement released Thursday, Gregg identified the stimulus and the census as two "irresolvable conflicts" with the Obama administration. But when Gregg was specifically asked at a Thursday press conference how he would vote on the stimulus, he deflected, saying, "Well, can I save that for tomorrow when we vote on the stimulus bill?"

Back on Feb. 4, Gregg said that he would not be voting on the stimulus bill, or any other legislation, while he was under consideration for Commerce Secretary.

In Friday's CNBC interview, Gregg critiqued the stimulus by saying that a "tactical error" was made in allowing "the appropriators" to write it. He said this made it "unfocused" and "disjointed" although he also said that the stimulus has gotten better as it has gone forward.

Asked how the stimulus could be re-worked in order to win his support, Gregg said: "They don't need to rework it now. They got their votes."

When asked if White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was going to try to "hijack" the census for partisan purposes, Gregg said: "That's a good question. We'll have to see what happens. The way it was explained to me was that it was -- the census would still report to the Commerce Secretary, but the White House wanted to have a major interest in the census process also."

Asked if he felt comfortable with that, Gregg said, "I actually hadn’t concluded as to how that was going to play out, to be honest with you. I thought that when I got there, I could probably straighten that out if it was a problem."

He then added that he was "a little surprised, in fact, disappointed, that some of the groups basically prejudged" his ability to manage the Commerce Department before he even got there.

When Obama first nominated Gregg to head the Commerce Department, the Congressional Black Caucus and an organization representing Hispanic elected officials publicly raised questions about whether Gregg could be trusted not to undercount minorities.

In his CNBC interview, Gregg voiced confidence in Ken Pruitt, the person whom the White House has proposed to manage the census. Gregg worked with Pruitt in 2000 when the New Hampshire senator chaired a congressional committee with oversight over the Commerce Department.

"I thought he did an excellent job," said Gregg. "I think the people in place will do a good census, and we’ll have to wait and see."

ABC News' Ferdous Al-Faruque contributed to this report.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...