Thursday, February 12, 2009

Stimulus Bill Approved By Conference Committee

Feb 11: Amidst some confusion between House and Senate Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that an agreement had been reached on the economic stimulus bill by House & Senate conferees. The compromise deal on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R. 1) [See WIMS 2/10/09] is for a $789.5 billion package and resolves the differences between the House version of $819 billion, and the Senate version of $838 billion. Insiders say the Senate announcement was made prior to final approval by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). House and Senate Republicans (with the exception of the three Republican Senators necessary for final approval) remain staunchly opposed to the final bill which now must be reapproved, without changes, by both Chambers before it goes to the President's desk.

President Obama issued a statement saying, "I want to thank the Democrats and Republicans in Congress who came together around a hard-fought compromise that will save or create more than 3.5 million jobs and get our economy back on track. Just today, the CEO of Caterpillar said that if this American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan is passed, his company would be able to rehire some of the employees they’ve been forced to lay off. It’s also a plan that will provide immediate tax relief to families and businesses, while investing in priorities like health care, education, energy, and infrastructure that will grow our economy once more. I’m grateful to the House Democrats for starting this process, and for members in the House and Senate for moving it along with the urgency that this moment demands."

Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), one of the three Senate Republicans supporting the package (along with Senators Specter, PA, and Collins, ME) issued a statement indicating that she was "directly involved in the Senate-House conference committee process, and was engaged in meetings with Majority Leader Reid last night and this morning that produced the compromise" that was revealed.

She said, "Given the gravity of our economic circumstances, I am pleased that our bipartisan negotiations have yielded a consensus solution that will create jobs, assist the displaced, and invest in our economy. As I’ve said from the outset of this process, it is not a matter of labeling something as spending or as tax relief -- it’s finding and including in this package the vital provisions necessary for jump-starting our economy. This $789 billion compromise will create or retain more 3.5 million jobs and provide tax relief for 95 percent of hard-working American families. We will be vigilant to ensure that every dollar is spent efficiently and effectively and for the sole purpose of turning this economy around and creating a brighter future for our fellow Americans. The time has come to bring everyone together and ensure this measure is swiftly enacted into law."

Senator Specter issued a statement saying, "This is obviously a very difficult vote in view of the large deficit and national debt which we have. But I believe it is indispensible that strong action be taken because the serious economic condition - with millions of jobs lost and millions of people being foreclosed from their houses -- poses a threat that cannot be ignored. The economists are virtually uniform in their prediction that if we do not act we face the potential consequence of a catastrophe and depression the likes of 1929. . . I believe the position of the United States Chamber of Commerce is a solid position from a very conservative organization and a Republican group very concerned with fiscal restraint. They have endorsed this legislation enthusiastically because of the seriousness of the economic situation and because of what it will mean on highways and bridges and dams and putting so many people to work. . ."

February 13, 2009, UPDATE: Here are the links to the actual Conference Committee report that will be voted on and explanatory statements.

Text of the Conference Report - Division A
Text of the Conference Report - Division B
Joint Explanatory Statement - Division A
Joint Explanatory Statement - Division B
H. Res. 168: Rule and Committee Report

Access a video of the February 11, House-Senate Conference Committee meeting (
click here). Access the statement from President Obama (click here). Access the statement from Senator Snowe (click here). Access the statement from Senator Specter (click here). Access the WSJ comparison between the House and Senate versions (click here). Access a summary from the Associated Press and USA TODAY research on how some of the differences between the House and Senate bills were resolved (click here). Access a 4-page House Appropriations Summary of the Conference Committee Report (click here). Access a WSJ interactive 1/27/09 map of approximate state distributions of funding (click here). Access legislative details for H.R. 1 (click here). [*All]