The first stage of stimulation-palooza in Congress is complete. It’s official.
The House, seizing a rare moment of bipartisanship to respond to the economy’s slump, overwhelmingly passed a $146 billion aid package Tuesday that would speed rebates of $600-$1,200 to most taxpayers.
The plan, approved by a yes-no margin after little debate, would send at least some rebate to anyone with at least $3,000 in income, with more going to families with children and less going to wealthier taxpayers.
It faced a murky future in the Senate, though, where Democrats and Republicans backed a larger package that adds billions of dollars for senior citizens and the unemployed, and shrinks the rebate to $500 for individuals and $1,000 for couples. That plan, written by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, would deliver checks even to the richest taxpayers, who are disqualified under the House-passed measure.
Both versions would provide tax breaks to businesses to spur equipment and other purchases.
Baucus, D-Mont., planned a Wednesday vote in his committee, and Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he hopes to have it approved by week’s end. Congressional leaders are aiming to send the measure to President Bush by Feb. 15.
GOP whip Roy Blunt’s office sends along the following:
House Republican Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.) issued the following statement today after the House passed a temporary economic growth package that will help small businesses create new jobs and give relief to middle-income American families:
“Republicans in the House began this process with a clear sense of what was needed to grow our economy, and an even clearer sense of what was not. That’s why this package includes strong, broad-based tax relief for America’s small businesses, but doesn’t include billions in wasteful new spending or a massive expansion of unrelated government programs. Still, the plan is far from perfect – but I’m hopeful it’ll help pave the way to a broader agreement on a broader tax relief package in the future.
“Those principles guided the creation of, and ensured an overwhelming, bipartisan vote for, this growth package in the House. Our vote sent a strong signal to the Senate that this bi-partisan plan must stay sharply focused and unburdened by unrelated, unnecessary spending. Though the instinct to spend taxpayer money may be strong, our colleagues should remember that a bill forced to bear the load of a wish list would likely crash under its own weight.”
NOTE: The temporary economic growth plan that passed this afternoon includes rebates of $300 to $1,200 for 117 million American families, as well has $50 billion in tax relief for small businesses.