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  • bluecheese4u bluecheese4u Jan 25, 2008 1:23 AM Flag

    Bush ``The country needs this boost to the economy now,''...

    Bush ``The country needs this boost to the economy now,''...

    Senate May Scuttle House's Agreement With Bush on Stimulus Plan

    By Alison Fitzgerald

    Jan. 25 (Bloomberg) -- The bipartisan agreement on an economic stimulus package reached by House leaders was immediately undermined by senators intent on ensuring that their ideas get a hearing before any bill becomes law.

    Even before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and the chamber's minority leader, John Boehner of Ohio, stood together yesterday on Capitol Hill to announce their agreement, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, said he planned to introduce his own bill.

    After a week of talk about the need for speed and cooperation among Democrats and Republicans, the House leaders agreed with the Bush administration on a plan to distribute rebate checks to 117 million families earning at least $3,000, give businesses incentives to invest in equipment and allow federally chartered mortgage-finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy mortgages of up to $729,750.

    ``This is all great for Pelosi and Boehner and Hank Paulson having a big love fest together, but what about the Senate?'' said Alex Brill, a research fellow at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute and former adviser to the tax- writing House Ways and Means Committee.

    He said the deal between the House and the administration may founder in the Senate. Pelosi and Boehner agreed that the Senate may stray from their agreement.

    `Senatorial Roles'

    ``This is not going to preclude the Senate from being the Senate and doing what they do,'' Boehner, 58, said at a news conference yesterday with Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. ``Far be it from me to predict what the Senate might do in their very senatorial roles,'' said Pelosi, 67.

    Lawmakers are racing to enact a stimulus measure to try to counter escalating risks of a recession. The Federal Reserve this week made an emergency cut in its benchmark overnight lending rate, lowering it three-quarters of a point to 3.5 percent.

    In a statement yesterday, President George W. Bush said the U.S. economy faces short-term disruptions in the housing market and rising energy prices. ``The country needs this boost to the economy now,'' said Bush, 61. The agreement will result in ``higher consumer spending and increased business investment this year.''

    Baucus, 66, said he wants to extend unemployment insurance benefits and ensure that low-income workers get rebates of the same size as middle-class people. ``I think the lower incomes shouldn't be cut off,'' he said.

    No `Magical Figure'

    Other senators said they wanted to contribute their own provisions and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said the House proposal's $150 billion price tag wouldn't be viewed as a ``magical figure.''

    Reid, 68, said members of the Senate Finance Committee ``and other senators will work to improve the House package by adding funds for other initiatives that can boost the economy immediately, such as unemployment benefits, nutrition assistance, state relief and infrastructure investment.''

    Senator Hillary Clinton, 60, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, said in a statement that she wants to see an extension of unemployment insurance and help for people struggling to pay high energy bills included in any measure.

    Her fellow New Yorker, Senator Charles Schumer, the No. 3 Democratic leader, said his goal would be to win approval of additional unemployment benefits for laid-off workers. ``It's the most effective way to move the economy forward,'' said Schumer, 57.

    Infrastructure Spending

    Senator Ron Wyden, an

53.73+0.24(+0.45%)Mar 3 4:00 PMEST

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