Congressional Leaders Backtracking on Stimulus Date

Congressional leaders are backing away from their projections for the timing of a new economic stimulus package this month.  It now appears that the package could be pushed back until February at the earliest. 

Some leaders had hoped to have it signed by President-elect Obama almost immediately after his swearing in process.  Republicans are already discussing possible alternatives to some provisions expected to be in the package.  Expect much more of that in the coming weeks.

Politico reports:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told host George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week” that perhaps the money for states should be a loan rather than a grant because it would “make them spend it more wisely.”

But  Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) told Stephanopoulos that an aggressive stimulus is still essential: “[T]o do nothing and to hold back and to be meek in our approach may have the opposite effect. We may spend a little money and not really turn this economy around. And that would be a disaster.”

House leaders had hoped for a vote the week of Jan. 12 on a stimulus bill that’s likely to total $800 billion or so.

That way, the House could send the bill over to the Senate — or even get it to the new president’s desk — in time for the Inauguration on Jan. 20. But House Democratic sources now tell Politico a vote the week of Jan. 19, or even later, is more likely.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said on “Fox News Sunday” that he doubts such a large bill can pass in time for the Inauguration.

“[I]t’s going to be very difficult to get the package put together that early so that it can have sufficient time to be reviewed, and then sufficient time to be debated and passed,” Hoyer said. “But we certainly want to see this package passed through the House of Representatives no later than the end of this month, get it over to the Senate, and have it to the president before we break for the [Presidents Day] break [in] early February. …

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