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Senate Resumes Stimulus Debate

February 9, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

With five days to go before the President’s Day recess, the Senate is running full steam ahead to pass the the stimulus package this week and begin the reconciliation process with the House. Late Friday night, a bipartisan compromise, led by Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Susan Collins (R-ME), was announced that would cut $83 billion from the spending portion of the stimulus. The bulk of the cuts would come from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, which provides support for state and local education programs. The Nelson-Collins version of the bill, in the form of a substitute amendment, will face its first test, a procedural vote with a 60-vote threshold, this evening. If that is passed, the bill will be put to a final vote on Tuesday.

Chances of the Nelson-Collins amendment overcoming the 60-vote hurdle are pretty good. With all Democrats, including the ailing Ted Kennedy (D-MA), expected to vote in favor of it (President Obama urged them to support it over the weekend), on;y two Republicans will be needed to cross the aisle. Susan Collins, one of the amendment’s chief negotiators, and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) have said the y will vote “yes.” Specter announced his support for the amendment this morning in a Washington Post op-ed, arguing that “the country cannot afford not to take action.” Main Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe is also a likely “yes.”

If the Nelson-Collins amendment passes, a final vote on the bill is scheduled for Tuesday at 1PM. After that, both the Senate and House will appoint conference committee members to meet and reconcile the differences between their different versions. The major differences include a $70 billion one-year patch of the Alternative Minimum Tax, the income cut-off level for Obama’s “Making Work Pay” tax credit, home-buyer tax breaks, and more.

We’ll be following this every step of the way – for now, here are some of the most buzz-worthy news and blog articles about the stimulus:

Washington Post: Republicans See Long-Term Victory in Defeat on Stimulus Plan

Gallup: Obama Has Upper Hand in Stimulus Fight

Paul Krugman: The Destructive Center

Bloomberg: U.S. Taxpayers Risk $9.7 Trillion on Bailouts as Senate Votes

Sunlight Foundation: We Need Online Review of Stimulus Legislation

New York Times: Obama Stumps for Stimulus in a City Hit Hard by Downturn

TPMDC: Senate Stimulus Compromise Deals a Blow to Cash-Strapped States

Rasmussen: 62% Want Stimulus Plan to Have More Tax Cuts, Less Spending

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