Deal reached on econ stimulus bill

February 6, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
On Friday night in Washington, there appears to be enough votes in the Senate to pass an economic stimulus bill designed to put the American economy back on its feet.

The compromise agreement came the same day a new jobs report showed a staggering 598,000 people lost their jobs in January. As of Friday night, the stimulus plan is now estimated at $780 billion, but it still go back over $780 billion as amendments are worked out.

"Tonight is a victory for the American people," said Senator Susan Collins (R) from Maine.

It took a small group of moderate Senators to end the gridlock. Now that they're on board, the passage of a stimulus package in the Senate is virtually guaranteed.

"We trimmed the fat, fried the bacon, and milked the sacred cows," said Senator Ben Nelson (D) of Nebraska.

It was a dramatic turn of events because for the past few days, the stimulus plan was quickly losing traction.

"While the house is burning, we're on the way to try to put out the fire and we've stopped the truck because we're arguing over what the best way to get to the fire most quickly," said Senator Joe Lieberman (I) from Connecticut.

However, with the announcement the country lost nearly 600,000 jobs in January alone, pressure to come up with a deal mounted and then, President Obama, offered congress some harsh words.

"It is inexcusable and irresponsible for any of us to get bogged down in distraction, delay or politics as usual, while millions of Americans are being put out of work," said President Obama.

Finally, after hours of behind-closed door meetings, a compromise emerged. Among what's out $40 billion in aid for states, $20 billion for school construction, $8 billion to make federal government buildings more efficient, and $1 billion for the early childhood program Head Start.

But among the items staying put: a tax cut of up to a $1,000 for working couples, $14 billion for college Pell Grants, $6 billion in special education, and $45 billion for infrastructure projects.

The homebuyer tax credit and tax credit for auto purchases, that were so important to Republicans, are also staying put for now. So far though, all but two Senate Republicans, are opposed to the plan. A fact Senator John McCain (R) of Arizona wanted to make perfectly clear.

"I've been involved in a lot of bipartisan legislation around here Mr. President, but I guarantee you, this is not bipartisan," said Senator John McCain (R) of Arizona.

The Senate is expected to vote on the plan on Monday. If approved House and Senate leaders would work on reconciling their versions of the bill. The hope is to have the bill ready to sign for the president by the end of the week.