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Senate Moves State Aid Bill to the House

August 5, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Don’t look now, but legislation is actually moving in the Senate. Congress Daily ($):

The Senate today sent the House a $26 billion state aid package after defeating two amendments from Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., seeking to permanently extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts.

The package, which passed 61-39, would provide $16.1 billion to extend for six months increased Medicaid funding for states, known as FMAP. The measure also provides $10 billion for a fund Democrats say will avert 138,000 teacher layoffs. It passed with the support of two Republicans, Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine.

The package actually reduces the deficit by $1.4 billion over 10 years.

Among the offsets is a $1.5 billion cut in renewable-energy loan guarantees, a program that Democrats, including House Speaker Pelosi, have wanted to increase.

Senate Majority Leader Reid said he expects the funding will be replaced. He added that Energy Department “has a huge amount of money they have not spent,” and that the funding is only “temporarily not there.”

The House is going to actually come back next week from recess to vote on this so it can be signed into law before mid-September. Though, if they take the renewable-energy cuts out of the bill like the article suggests, the Senate would have to then take up the revised House version before it can go to Obama. The Senate is scheduled to begin their August recess n Friday, so I’m not sure how that would work.

The bill is H.R.1586, which, right now, doesn’t have a name. It used to be called the “FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act,” but before the Senate passed it they approved a substitute amendment to it that replaces the old text with a completely new text (hence the transformation from Air Modernization to FMAP funding). Apparently, the Dems haven’t decided on a name for it yet. From the text of the substitute amendment:

SHORT TITLE

Section 1. This Act may be cited as the ``__XXXX Act of __XX’’.

Still stuck in the Senate is the small business job creation bill, which would spend about the same amount of money as the bill they passed today and is also estimated to earn the federal government a billion or two in new revenue when all is said and done. The Dems had been hoping to have that bill to point to as an accomplishment on job creation as they head home to meet with constituents over the August recess. It’s hard not to see the Republicans’ unanimous opposition to the bill, blocking the Dems from holding an up-or-down vote, as anything other than a political move than a policy decision.

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