The U.S. House of Representatives has approved legislation to provide $146 billion to help stimulate the ailing U.S. economy. VOA's Dan Robinson reports, slightly different legislation is pending in the Senate.
Approval of the stimulus package in the House, by a vote of 385 to 35, shifts the focus to the Senate, where Democrats have proposed adding $10 billion or more to the measure for the unemployed and elderly Americans.
That's something President Bush warned against in his State of the Union address Monday, stating that any attempt to derail or delay the carefully-negotiated legislation would be unacceptable.
During Tuesday's House debate, partisan bickering was largely absent as Republicans and Democrats voiced support for steps to help avoid a recession by injecting money into the pockets of Americans by providing many taxpayers with a $600 tax rebate.
"What the American people want is they want solutions, solutions to the problems that we face in our country. And I believe that the bipartisan measure that we have will in fact help give a short-term boost to our economy," said John Boehner, the Republican minority leader.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked at a news conference about changes being contemplated by Senate Democrats, and whether they might threaten the bipartisan package put together with the White House.
"I don't want anything that is done in the Senate, as much as I would support many of those initiatives, to do any harm to what we have done in our rebate package," she said. "If they add, and there is a finite number, say it is $150 billion, how do they pay for that?"
Pelosi said any additions to the House measure that could be negotiated in a bipartisan way between the Senate and Bush administration, will be examined by House and Senate negotiators meeting to reconcile a final version.
However, at a second news conference later with Congressman Boehner, Pelosi repeated an appeal to the Senate to adopt the House version of the stimulus package, saying she feels the figure passed by the House is what can be handled at the moment.
At the White House, President Bush had this reaction to House passage of the economic stimulus bill.
"I do want to congratulate the House of Representatives for overhwhelmingly passing a economic growth package that will help our economy. The temptation is going to be for the Senate to load it up [add money to it]. My concern is that we need to get this bill out of the Senate and on my desk so the checks can get in the hands of our consumers and our businesses can be assured of the incentives necessary to make investments," he said.
The Senate Finance Committee has scheduled a vote for Wednesday on its version of the legislation.
House and Senate lawmakers hope to be able to get a final stimulus bill to President Bush for signature as quickly as possible, but indications are the process may take until the second week of next month.