After the Senate passed a stimulus bill that key members of Congress now say “recklessly” shed much of the stimulus spending endorsed by the House, the Obama White House has been prodding members of the conference committee that will reconcile two very different proposals to restore funding for schools, health insurance and aid for struggling states.
“To make room for added spending, the White House, joined by House Democratic leaders, is pressing to scale back certain Senate-passed tax breaks,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
This is a dramatic step in the right direction by the Obama administration. And it seems to be working; House and Senate negotiators were meeting Wednesday amid mounting speculation that aid for school construction would be restored and money for the states would be increased.
Pressured by Senate Republicans, Democrats in that chamber bartered off too much of the stimulus spending, creating a bill that is less likely to provide the boost that is needed for a sagging economy. As Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) co-chairs Lynn Woolsey and Raul Grijalva note in a new letter to House leaders, “We are especially concerned that the Senate package does not invest in jobs — be they focused on ‘green’ technology, veterans, or sustaining the local prevailing wage.”
“Simply put,” argue progressive House members, “the Senate-passed version will not address the urgent fiscal, social, and educational needs of this country.”
Obama and his aides appear to have recognized this fact, and are now taking behind-the-scenes steps to address the damage done by the Senate.
Grijalva and Woolsey and the caucus they represent, which now includes roughly a third of all Democrats in the House (far more than the conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats, some of whom have sided with the Senate) are pushing for specific moves to renew a stimulus proposal that, after the battering it took in the Senate, is sagging almost as badly as the economy.
Here’s the letter the CPC co-chairs sent to House speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and House Appropriations Committee chair David Obey, D-Wisconsin:
As co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, we write to you today to express our great concern about H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009. Simply put, the Senate-passed version will not address the urgent fiscal, social, and educational needs of this country. In fact, we fear that we may only get one bite at this apple. Therefore, we must take this opportunity to act boldly now.