Friday, February 06, 2009

Senators reach tentative deal on stimulus package

This is from The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Spurred by a dismal unemployment report for January, senators were close to reaching an accord on Friday evening on an economic stimulus program of some $800 billion sought by President Obama to pull the country out of the worst recession in years.

Democrats appeared to have succeeded, after a long day of private negotiations and intense public debate, to have won the support of enough Republicans to move the package toward a final vote. Assuming there is a final vote, passage would be assured.

Exact outlines of the accord were not immediately available, but the senators reportedly agreed to cut some spending and strip out some business tax cuts to gain enough Republican support.

Once the Senate votes on the package, differences between the Senate legislation and a considerably different version passed recently by the House would have to be reconciled. President Obama has said he hopes all that can be accomplished in time for him to sign the measure within 10 days.

Three centrist Republicans, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine, were said to be among the senators being wooed by Democrats, whose efforts were bolstered by Rahm Emanuel, the president’s chief of staff, who is a former Congressman from Illinois.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic majority leader, and Mr. Emanuel reportedly met with Ms. Collins and Mr. Specter Friday evening to smooth out any remaining wrinkles. Soon afterward, Mr. Reid conferred with his fellow Democrats to gain their approval.

The Senate negotiations and day-long public debate were given new urgency by the announcement on Friday morning that 598,000 jobs were lost in January. Democratic lawmakers said it was time to stop quibbling about the exact parameters of the legislation, which mixes safety net spending, tax cuts and a huge infusion of dollars into federal programs.

Now if Harry Reid can get this deal through, and the stimulus bill voted on tonight, then we may at least have some legislation to help the U.S. out of this economic slide. And President Barack Obama is going to have a huge first victory under his belt. If President Obama failed to get this stimulus package through, we would have had another two months of partisan bickering over another economic stimulus bill, as both American consumers, workers, and businesses looked on at the deteriorating economic situation. I'm not saying that the U.S. economy will miraculously get better, now that the stimulus bill is close to passing. But the passage of this stimulus bill will help in restoring confidence to the U.S. economy, and restore confidence that Congress and the White House are working towards fixing this nation's economic problems. That is important.

Looking back at my previous post, where GOP strategist Alex Castellanos called Republican bipartisanship, over Obama's economic stimulus plan, as "wussy Republicans," I wonder if Castellanos is just angry at how Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins were certainly wooed into supporting the Obama stimulus bill (Depending if all three are supporting the bill under this tentative agreement). So now we've got some name-calling between Republicans here.

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