Senate Pressured to OK Stimulus Deal

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CBNNews.com -- With the deal between the Bush Administration and once-warring House leaders now made to speed rebate checks to taxpayers starting in May, the Senate must now decide what it is going to with the measure.

 Government insiders say the hard-won bipartisan agreement would pump about $150 billion into the economy this year. It is hoped the action would keep recession at bay. The U.S. economy has not seen a recession in the last seven years.

House leaders are optimistic that their stimulus package of providing rebate checks to 117 million families and $50 billion in incentives for businesses to invest in new plants and equipment will easily pass on the Senate floor. They are hopeful senators will not try to make changes to their simply stated bill such as extending unemployment benefits.

House leaders still have one ace to play though, if the Senate tries to make changes, the Bush administration will come to their aid.

What You Would Receive

Under the agreement, individual taxpayers would get up to $600 in rebates, working couples $1,200 and those with children an additional $300 per child. In a key concession to Democrats, 35 million families who make at least $3,000 but don't pay taxes would get $300 rebates.

The rebates would phase out gradually for individuals whose adjusted gross income exceeds $75,000 and for couples with incomes above $150,000. Contributions to IRA and 401 retirement accounts and health savings accounts would not count toward the income limit.

"This package will lead to higher consumer spending and increased business investment," President Bush said in hailing the agreement.

The bill is scheduled to go straight to the House floor next week and then to the Senate.

Democrats Want More in Package

Democrats pledge they will try to add elements such as extending unemployment benefits for workers whose benefits have run out, boost home heating subsidies and raise food stamp benefits.

Sen. Edward Kennedy D-Mass. said he wants "to strengthen this package to provide unemployment insurance to workers looking for jobs and to help families coping with high heating costs and skyrocketing food prices."

The Bush administration has signaled it's unlikely to welcome efforts to broaden the measure, and pressure was mounting in the Senate to accept the deal.

"The American people are not going to have a lot of patience for taking time," Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said.

However, some Democrats, including House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y, are unhappy that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed to drop unemployment proposals during the talks.

"I do not understand, and cannot accept, the resistance of President Bush and Republican leaders to including an extension of unemployment benefits for those who are without work through no fault of their own," Rangel said.

If the Senate quickly approves the measure, the first rebate payments could begin going out in May and most people could have them by July.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the goal was to send the package to the White House by Feb. 15 for Bush's signature. He noted, however, that the Senate was likely to try to add more spending for the unemployed, food stamp recipients, and states suffering budget crunches.

Source: Associated Press

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