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Congress, Obama Transition Team Continue to Develop Economic Stimulus Plan

December 4, 2008
Congressional Democrats, realizing that the opportunity to pass a massive economic stimulus package during the 110th Congress is shrinking due to time constraints, as well as resistance by Senate Republicans and the Bush Administration, are considering whether to convene the week of December 8 to take up a smaller stopgap measure to provide immediate relief to low-income households. Congress may also consider a rescue package for the automotive industry if a consensus can be reached. Congressional leaders have announced that a significantly larger economic stimulus package, upwards of $500 billion, would be taken up for consideration once the 111th Congress convenes on January 6, 2009. Congressional staff is already at work scheduling hearings for early January and is beginning to piece together the major components of the legislation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have both said it is their intention to pass the bill in time for President-elect Obama to sign it into law after his inauguration on January 20. Infrastructure Investment - While details of the package are still under development, it is widely expected that there will be a significant infrastructure investment component. Economic stimulus legislation passed by the House in October included infrastructure funding of $34 billion, including: $12.8 billion for the federal-aid highway program and $3.6 billion for transit projects. AGC has been successful in relaying its message that a significant investment in infrastructure will spur economic development, helping to cultivate support among key Congressional decision-makers to increase investment in road, bridge, flood protection, and water infrastructure projects in the stimulus bill. Support for infrastructure investment is also strongly supported by President-elect Obama, who announced on November 21 a new initiative to save or create 2.5 million jobs in the next two years that includes infrastructure investment, school modernization, and new energy policy initiatives. At a meeting of the National Governors Association (NGA) on December 2, the nation's governors requested that the stimulus package include as much as $136 billion worth of road and bridge repairs projects that are “ready-to-go.” The governors are also asking for direct aid to states experiencing significant budget deficits. Another central component of the measure is expected to be a “green-jobs” program. The may include items such as home weatherizing, installation of “smart meters” designed to reduce home energy use, tax breaks or direct government subsidies for a variety of clean energy projects, including solar arrays, wind farms, biofuels, and clean coal technology.
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