Monday, February 09, 2009

Senate Stimulus Bill Slated For Narrow Passage

Feb 9: Partisan politics and the same old Congressional gridlock were never so obvious over the weekend Friday night and Saturday during the Senate debate on the Senate substitute for the House-passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R. 1). After an extensive behind the scenes negotiations led by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) and including several other Democrats and Republicans, a paired down version of the Senate bill emerged that apparently will be supported by Senate Democrats and three Senate Republicans -- Senator Collins; Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA). The so-called Collins-Nelson amendment, plus various floor amendments previously approved now constitute the current Senate version of the bill which totals some $827 billion. The House-passed its $819 billion version on January 28, 2009 [See WIMS 1/29/09] with no Republican support.

A test procedure vote is expected on the Floor of the Senate this evening and a final vote on passage is scheduled for Tuesday. The House and Senate differences must then be resolved by a Conference Committee and then the resulting bill will need to be approved by both the House and Senate again before going to the President for his signature. The process is supposed to be complete on or before President's Day on February 16.

While the President and Democrats apparently will gain a narrow passage of the stimulus bill, all House Republicans and more than 35 Senate Republicans appear united in their opposition to the current stimulus bill. On Friday, February 6, U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) issued a statement saying, “From the very first moment of this debate, there’s been strong bipartisan agreement on one thing: the original version of this bill was too big, too unfocused to work. The President, Senate Democrats, and just about every Senate Republican agreed this bill needed a massive overhaul. . . Virtually everyone agreed this bill lacked focus, didn’t create enough jobs, had too much permanent government expansion, and was just way too expensive with the national debt already reaching frightening new dimensions. . . The more the American people learn about this bill, the less they like it. Americans realize that a bill which was meant to be timely, targeted, and temporary has instead become a Trojan horse for pet projects and expanded government. . . Republicans are ready to support a stimulus bill. But we will not support an aimless spending spree that masquerades as a stimulus. . . But putting another $1 trillion on the nation’s credit card isn’t something we should do lightly."

Access the complete 778-page Collins-Nelson amendment for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (
click here). Access a 14-page summary of the Appropriations provisions of the bill (including Nelson-Collins amendment and other floor amendments as of February 6) (click here). Access an 11-page summary of Finance provisions as Amended on the Floor through 2/7, Plus Expected Elements of the Collins-Nelson Amendment (click here). Access a release from Senator Collins (click here). Access a statement from Senator Snowe (click here). Access comments from Senator Specter (click here). Access a statement from Senator McConnell (click here). [*All]