Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Senate Continues to Debate Economic Recovery Package

While the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" last week on a near party-line vote of 244-118, it has become apparent that the United States Senate will have a more difficult time recruiting support for this legislation.

The Senate began debate earlier this week on H.R. 1, which was originally a $819 billion package aimed at stabilizing the economy and creating jobs.

This package continues to shift as policymakers offer amendments that could create a stimulus package ranging from a $421 billion plan introduced by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to a $900 billion package. Among many featured amendments includes a potential increase in the Home Buyer Tax Credit from $7500 to $15000.

Today's Wall Street Journal showcases an article that suggests additional possible solutions to the housing crisis and could be included in the economic recovery package.

Provisions aimed to repair the housing market collapse and support affordable housing seem popular among many policymakers; however, these measures are not as apparent as others in the recovery package itself.

Senator Kent Conrad (D -ND) has vocalized that he will not support a recovery package unless it includes a $50 billion program designed to help homeowners. Senator Conrad shares this opinion with many Senators including Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who is quoted in this article in today's New York Times stating:

“Most people recognize that housing itself is at the root of the current economic downturn, we should fix this problem before we fix anything else.”

But as amendments continue to fly on - and off- the Senate floor, it is difficult to predict if and when the Senate will agree to a package, Congress will reach consensus and a completed economic recovery package will arrive at the White House.

As this article in the Washington Post suggests, many policymakers believe they have not created a bipartisan measure that could pass a vote in the Senate yet.

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