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Stimulus Package Moves to the Senate

February 1, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The ever-growing economic stimulus package, which was passed by the House of Representatives last week, is slated to be debated in the Senate beginning this afternoon. Since the House’s action on the bill last week, the stimulus package has grown by about $70 billion (now totaling $888 billion), and it is expected to grow even more as it is dealt with by the Senate, probably to more than $900 billion.

While Democrats in the House were able to pass the stimulus package without a single Republican vote, Senate Democrats will need to win the support of at least two Senate Republicans; more if any in their own party defect. This puts Republicans in a strong position to alter the bill through amendments (more on that later; let’s talk procedure first…).

According to the Democrats’ Senate Calendar, at 2PM on Monday, the Senate will proceed to consideration of H.R. 1, Economic Recovery and reinvestment Act of 2009 (aka the stimulus package). This is a debatable motion, therefore filibusterable, so the first legislative hurdle will be a cloture motion that will require 60 votes for passage. I expect that there will be plenty of Republicans willing to join with the Democrats on this in order to move the debate forward.

Now, the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committees have created their own version of the stimulus package that includes some major changes to the version that the House passed. Once the Senate officially begins debate of H.R. 1, the Senate version will be voted on as a substitute amendment – S.Amdt.98. It would strike out the entire text of H.R. 1 and replace it with what was agreed to by the Senate Committees.

Then the amendment process really begins. How this goes – nobody knows. But it’s expected to be a pretty free-flowing and open process. Technically, all the amendments offered to the bill at this point will be secondary amendments, amendments to S.Amdst.98 (and no, tertiary amendments are not allowed).

On a conference call with reporters on Friday, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that Democrats plan to let Republicans have their amendments debated and voted on:

>If there are things that Republicans find objectionable, they can offer an amendment and get a majority vote to take it out. Or if they want to make a switch between the ratio of tax cuts to spending they can try. Speaking for myself, and I think I speak for most Democrats … I am not sure they would get much Democratic support to greatly cut back on the spending side and further increase the tax cuts.

As for the amendments that will be offered, here’s what we know right now:

  • Someone, maybe Dick Durbin (D-IL) will likely introduce a “”">Buy American" amendment to match the one that was adopted by the House.

We’ll be keeping close track of the Senate’s stimulus debate this week and reporting the developments as they occur. To keep up with the debate, subscribe to this blog’s RSS feed and the feeds on OpenCongress for the stimulus bill itself.

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  • Anonymous 02/02/2009 1:52am

    What are the loan criteria for ‘credit worthy.?’ It’s discriminatory. It’s also based on private industry’s ranking of ‘credit worthy.’ The loan criteria have to consider CHA public housing and ‘poor’ people. We need to put these in bundles and sell them so that everyone is equal.

    We also need a moratorium of foreclosures for these ‘credit worthy’ people.

    Most taxes paid overseas are US government money going to NGOs, so why reduce these when it’s going to private industry?

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 02/04/2009 11:58am

    Are you kidding? Dumbing down the loan criteria helped get us where we are now.

  • Anonymous 02/02/2009 1:57am
    Link Reply
    + -1

    The buy American is there because that’s not enough money. We need more like 400-500 billion.

  • Anonymous 02/02/2009 7:09am

    Help! I have been living the American dream unemployed and demoralized for 11 months now. The available opportunities are few and opportunities with livable compensation are fewer. I have a home (without wheels), 2 degrees, 35 years experience, veteran status, never been a job hopper, and have a strong employment background. To date, I have worked harder searching for a job than I ever did while employed. I have applied for at least 300 opportunities (which were extremely hard to find) and received at most 35 interviews. I have been told I scored extremely high, had 2 or 3 follow up interviews yet no offers or further considerations. When you try to follow up with hiring managers or H/R personnel they ignore your inquiry. I wouldn’t consider myself hard to look at or have to sneak up on a glass of water to get a drink! I believe the age based barriers for older workers exist in this economy. I’m either way over qualified and I know they would rather hire someone they know then a complete stranger. Worse yet, how can you sustain a small mortgage, fair health insurance, used reliable transportation, utility and heating service, property taxes, nourishment, college savings, Etcetera… How do survive on $9 to $12 dollars an hour $15 if your luck and what do you cut back on. Is this now the standard as livable income for displaced, career change workers? I hope the government considers all the families and the long-term unemployed in this stimulus package. I have read this stimulus Bill and had several stimulus brain cramps trying to comprehend the language. Does anyone know if my interpretation is close to what these legislators are saying? Does this current package extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program which will provide between 20 to 33 weeks of extended unemployment benefits to workers exhausting their regular benefits? Does the EUC current program scheduled to phase out at the end of March 2009? If this passes would this Bills provisions extend unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed through December 2009? Does anyone else have an interpretation of all this language? If I didn’t have my spirituality through all this while trying to stay positive when everything you read or hear is negative, I’m sure my family would now we are soon to be homeless and considered by the Government as expendable surplus! Having love and gratitude has helped me eliminate all negativity from this economy, but it’s not easy to overcome these thoughts.

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 02/05/2009 6:09am

    Please understand you are not alone….and I fully appreciate every point you make….my deep concern is that with 2009 expected to get “worse before things get better”; as the President himself has stated and seems to understand very clearly…..the initial “EMERGENCY EXTENSION OF UNEMPLOYEMENT INSURANCE” will not be enough….if a state has a triiger of 6% and the rate is actually over 7% something more needs to be done….20 or 33 weeks is not enoughwhen that is almost exhausted in just the first few months of 2009….WE NEED ANOTHER EXTENSION………

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 02/05/2009 6:53am

    absolutely correct, there needs to be a amendment to the EUC to include a TIER 3….or there will be tyranny….don’t the politicians know how we are hurting….this is real pain…..

  • Anonymous 02/03/2009 5:08pm
    • John Ensign (R-NV) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) will offer an amendment to reduce taxes on profits earned in other countries by U.S. companies.
    • Someone, maybe Dick Durbin (D-IL) will likely introduce a “Buy American” amendment to match the one that was adopted by the House.

    As of tonight the “Buy American” Amendment is dead, the European Union objected to it. Now we can’t even write our own economic recovery package in this country. And the other highlighted proposal is completwly insulting, especially coming from Sen. Boxer. Where are the incentives to keep the taxes low here and encourage manufacturing in THIS country???? We are being sold out on the first Bill. I am so angry I wish they could impeach Obama now. This is just a complete failure of our system. The change never happened!

  • Anonymous 02/05/2009 2:46am

    I suppose the people’s love affair with Obama is quickly running out, and the Senate is aware of it. We may be looking at a whole newly revamped bill come time for the Senate vote…

  • Anonymous 02/07/2009 6:19am

    I still don’t get how a tax cut will help people that have already lost their jobs. I think most of the people not working now would not care if the taxes changed or not. I think they do care about going back to work and paying the bills. If you are not in the construction trade, you seem to be left out of any kind of quick job replacement. Sure, create construction jobs such as new bridges, highway repair etc…, and the businesses that make the products for these projects will use the personnel onboard now to make these products. (If they have the capital to make the products) Then its a waiting game to see what the acual demand for the products and the cash flow to be able to hire new employees to keep up with the proposed demand. I think people are going to be out of work for a long time and that should be a very high if not the highest priority with this stimulus package. Right now in this part of the country when you go to apply for a job, you get there along with hundreds of other people looking for the same job.

  • Anonymous 02/07/2009 6:23am

    Obama did not create this mess. This was a sinking economy during the Bush years that has hit a wall. The love affair isnt over, its just beginning. If you think this stimulus bill is going to help anyone besides the politicians anytime soon, your wrong. But to go and blame Obama now shows little insite to how to get this country going again.

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 02/09/2009 1:25am

    That is bologna….everyone wishes Obama the very best but the STIMULUS should be focused like a laser on JOBS JOBS JOBS not 99%…100%

  • Anonymous 02/12/2009 8:09am

    Thank god that COBRA was extended in the final package ( ). I know many people rely on it as health care costs go up. The only problem is that many smaller business may not be around to provide the COBRA coverage for their employees.

  • Anonymous 03/07/2009 1:25am

    Are you kidding me!!! How is “Wolf breeding and seal research” help stimulate our economy? Personally I do not believe the simulus package will help our ecomony. But if it is going to pass..

    Congress need to remove all “Earmarks” from the stimulus package!

    But most importantly, we need contress to work together. Currently I do not see this is the case. As a citizen of the United States, I am outraged!!!!! Stop whining and work together for solution or step down!!!!

  • Anonymous 03/12/2009 7:24am

    For those of us that were unemployed in 2008 benefits will run out when things are at there worst…GET IT…

    We don’t need some pacifying joke of 13 weeks of extended benefits but something based upon the depravity of the economy…

    The scale of unemployed people is huge….we need a tier 3 modification of legislation….an amendment to the law….call it whatever you want…just get these democrats who are supposed to be in touch with the masses……enlightened as to this point…GOOD GRIEF…HELLO

  • BPennett 03/21/2009 9:21am


    For those of us that were unemployed in 2008 benefits will run out when things are at there worst…GET IT…

    We don’t need some pacifying joke of 13 weeks of extended benefits but something based upon the depravity of the economy…

    The scale of unemployed people is huge….we need a tier 3 modification of legislation….an amendment to the law….call it whatever you want…just get these democrats who are supposed to be in touch with the masses……enlightened as to this point…GOOD GRIEF…HELLO

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