January 29, 2009
Re: House Passes HR 1
Senate Advances S.336
(Economic Recovery Package)
Early last evening, the House passed the $819 billion economy recovery legislation, following a day of sometimes heated debate over the size and provisions of the bill, the transparency of the process and whether tax cuts or spending would be more helpful to reviving the economy.
On Tuesday, the House Rules Committee voted to allow a limited debate on the bill, with only 11 amendments. The House adopted several of the amendments including an increase in transit capital funds from $9 billion to $12 billion and an amendment to reinstate a provision requiring that 50 percent of the money for highway, aviation, transit and rail projects be obligated within 90 days. The House Appropriations Committee had extended that time frame. The House rejected an amendment to strike funding for Amtrak.
Before final passage of HR 1, the House rejected a proposed amendment that would have cut new spending programs in the measure while adding $36 billion for highways and $24 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers. Transportation advocates have expressed disappointment with the amount of transportation funding in the bill. Appropriators said that transportation funding could not be spent quickly enough to meet the goals of the stimulus package.
Meanwhile, we were advised by Senator Menendez that on Tuesday, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee and the Finance Committee approved major provisions of S.336, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan. (www.njslom.org/NJSLOM-letter.pdf) Senator Menendez also provided two Committee Press Releases that include useful summaries of major aspects of the Senate bill. (Appropriations Committee at www.njslom.org/appropriations-committee.pdf and Finance Committee at www.njslom.org/prb012709.pdf)
We will keep you posted on further developments and we hope to be able to highlight differences between the House and Senate bills shortly.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.