Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Stimulus: Is the Train Pulling Out of the Station?

The Senate's 61-37 vote today to pass its version of an economic stimulus package sends the legislation to a House-Senate conference committee to sort out differences between their respective versions. One of those differences has to do with funding for prevention and wellness agencies and programs. The House version would appropriate $3 billion; the Senate originally sought $5.8 billion, but dropped funding for it entirely to reach a compromise that delivered the three moderate Republican votes needed to secure a filibuster-proof majority vote.

The action over the last 24 hours has been fast and furious, and the final version of the bill could be delivered very quickly. The big question now is: is there any room for compromise, or do the moderate Republicans constitute a "gang of three" that essentially controls the future of the bill?

Partnership for Prevention is urging House conferees to hold firm for the prevention and wellness funding. "At $3 billion, this fund represents less than one-half of a percent of the total funding package," said Partnership Interim President Corinne G. Husten. "However, it will create an estimated 17,000 jobs while providing immediate assistance to State and local public health agencies and programs that are critical components of the nation’s safety net."

House Democratic conferees are expected to be Speaker Pelosi and Representatives Obey, Hoyer, Clyburn, Frank, Gordon, Miller, Oberstar, Rangel, Spratt, Towns, Velasquez and Waxman.


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