States Await U.S. Senate Action on Stimulus Package
By Jack Penchoff
With the U.S. House passage this week of President Obama’s proposed $825 billion two-year economic stimulus package, attention now turns to the U.S. Senate, which is expected to take up its version next week.
The House version of the stimulus package totals $825 billion and includes $365 billion for infrastructure projects, $180 billion to help states increase jobless benefits and fill gaps in the Medicaid programs, and a $275 billion tax relief program that would provide up to $1,000 per year to families by tweaking payroll deduction schedules.
The Senate Finance Committee has already signaled changes. If the full Senate approves the bill, those changes will have to be ironed out in a conference committee composed of House and Senate members. The Finance Committee this week approved the tax package with a provision that would reduce taxes on businesses that buy back their own debt at a discount.
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the estimated cost of the Senate plan will be more than $1 trillion. Once the Senate version is approved, negotiators from the Senate and House will meet to produce a compromise bill. That bill will then go back to the full Senate and House for another vote.