The vote was 61-37, and the procedural vote yesterday made this margin all but certain.
But this doesn’t mean it’s all sewn up. There’s still some debate to be had.
—Both House and Senate bills provide close to $87 billion in increased federal aid to help states meet their healthcare bills under Medicaid. But the House bill is much more tilted in favor of larger urban states, which have experienced the greatest increase in unemployment, while the Senate bill takes a more across-the-board approach that helps rural states.
—The Senate bill is more tilted toward tax breaks, including a $15,000 homebuyersâ€™ tax credit that has proven more costly than first advertised and seems sure to face challenges in the negotiations. Senators also used their bill to address the perennial problem of protecting middle and upper middle income families from the alternative minimum tax â€“an issue that House fiscal conservatives argue should be dealt with separately.
—State and local aid is a major part of both bills, but the final round of cuts imposed by Republican moderates fell heavily on these accounts, including a $40 billion cut from the a state fiscal stabilization initiate favored by Obama.
–The school construction issue remains a ticklish one since it was a cut that both Collins and Specter insisted upon in the negotiations. At the White House Monday, Obama defended the proposal, saying it would generate construction jobs and be a long term commitment to education important to the economy, In fact, the New Deal saw like-minded investments in local schools. But Collins and Specter argued that in todayâ€™s environment, it represents a new federal role in public schools and ought to be debated outside of the stimulus debate.
My thought is that the current bill will simply not change much because the cuts that happened were necessary to move this legislation forward. If the states need more money in the future, I’m sure that’ll be something the administration will address, but for now the important part is getting some forward movement.
More as it develops…