Tom McNamara, Blueprint America
The Senate agreed on a scaled-down economic stimulus bill on Friday when three Republicans said they would back the reworked legislation. For procedural reasons, Senate Democrats needed those votes to reach a total of 60 in order to pass the bill.
Formal talks between both houses in Congress will not begin until the Senate passes its $827 billion version of the plan; the House already passed a bill that costs about $819 billion.
The deal came after five days of partisan stalemate, and followed news that the country lost nearly 600,000 jobs in January. Senators initially valued the compromise at $780 billion – after spending most of the day debating a $930 billion plan. Bipartisan opposition in the Senate, however, ultimately forced Democrats – and, President Barack Obama – to concede some spending initiatives and continue to put in place additional tax cuts. A measure to encourage auto and home sales, among other things, pushed the final total of the bill to almost $830 billion.
Some $108 billion in spending from President Obama’s plan, including funding for projects that likely would impact the economy immediately, was lost in the compromise.
On the cutting room floor:
– $40 billion in aid to states, money that could have prevented layoffs, cuts in services or tax increases.
– $20 billion for construction and repair of schools and university facilities.
Even when the Senate passes the stimulus sometime this week, it will take time to go into effect. President Obama cannot sign the bill until the House and Senate versions are reconciled, which both houses could take until March to come to terms on.
Sen. John McCain, the former Republican presidential candidate, has asked his supporters to sign a petition to buttress his opposition to the economic stimulus package pushed by the President and congressional Democrats. The petition states, “I cannot and do not support the package on the table from the Democrats and the Obama Administration.”
At nostimulus.com, Americans for Prosperity, a right-wing political advocacy group, has started a petition against the stimulus bill. Both the Web site of the group and its petition site are currently unavailable due to an overwhelming response. “Congress should not enact an expensive spending bill under the pretense of stimulus or recovery. We cannot spend our way to prosperity, and such an expansion of the federal government will put a crushing burden on taxpayers in the long-term,” the petition says.