Stimulus package is not a done deal

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) talks to reporters about the economic stimulus proposal during his weekly news briefing, along with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), left, and Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday.

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KAI RYSSDAL: House Republicans spent today communing amongst themselves. They gathered for a GOP retreat at a resort in West Virginia. When lawmakers get back to work next week the first order of business will be that $150 billion stimulus package that was announced yesterday. Leaders of both parties in the House say they're on board. Neither one is totally happy with the compromise, though. And despite all the bipartisan talk, Marketplace's John Dimsdale reports there are plenty of potential short-circuits left.


JOHN DIMSDALE: President Bush today said while he understands the desire to amend the stimulus bill from both the right and the left, it would be a mistake to delay the narrowly crafted compromise.

But while the House appears ready for a quick endorsement, Senators aren't so accommodating. Montana Democrat Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate committee that deals with taxes, plans to introduce his own stimulus package.

MAX BAUCUS: I think this can be improved upon. So therefore I think there will be some changes. We can do a still better job even than the House and the President's agreement provides for.

Senate Democrats like Baucus are calling for more help for the unemployed, food stamp recipients and poor families with high heating bills. Union lobbyists, such as Tor Cowan at the American Federation of Teachers, are backing those changes.

TOR COWAN: The Senate is very much an active partner in this negotiation and they're going to be interested in doing a little more. I don't think they think that this package really represents the entirety of what we need to do.

Republicans oppose the extra spending. They think the stimulus package is short on permanent tax cuts and incentives for job creation. Majority leader Harry Reid today said more negotiating on the Senate side looks unavoidable.

HARRY REID: And we'll see what we do with all of our Senate rules. What changes are going to be made in this. And I hope we can continue in this bipartisan spirit on this piece of legislation.

The Treasury Department says rebate checks could be mailed in May. But that depends on whether Congressional action really is quick.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

About the author

As head of Marketplace’s Washington, D.C. bureau, John Dimsdale provides insightful commentary on the intersection of government and money for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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