By Jared Allen - 12/08/09 07:27 PM EST
House will move as early as next week on a jobs bill anchored by at
least $75 billion in spending on infrastructure, according to House
“We’re moving on jobs,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky
(D-Ill.), a chief deputy whip, said following a Tuesday afternoon
Democratic Caucus meeting.
At the briefing, members were told that leaders intend on passing a jobs package of between $75 billion and $150 billion before adjourning for the year.
Both dollar figures and a final lineup of projects remained elusive on Tuesday.
In order to pass a bill by the end of the year, the House would have to forgo committee markups.
both Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar
(D-Minn.) and Highways and Transit subcommittee Chairman Peter DeFazio
(D-Ore.) — who has complained about the shunning of the legislative
process — signaled they don’t have an issue with leadership’s plans.
have spent weeks discussing the merits of billions in new funding for
highway infrastructure projects, but had not reached an agreement on
how much to spend or what other measures should be included in a major
Minutes before their Tuesday caucus
meeting, Democratic leaders were publicly hedging on whether they could
squeeze a major jobs bill into the remaining eight or so workdays left
on the House calendar. Adjournment is scheduled for Dec. 18.
addition, Democrats said they wanted to secure a commitment from the
Senate — which is bogged down in healthcare reform, and likely to
remain so right up until Christmas — to follow suit this year.
is a great desire to get it done over on the House side,” Assistant to
the Speaker Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said before the meeting. “But we
just have to get a sense of where the Senate is first.”
complication right now is that the Senate is very focused on the
healthcare bill,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said
Tuesday morning. “I don’t mean they can’t walk and chew gum at the same
time. They can ... But they’re not going to have floor time to do
But the message House leaders took into their caucus meeting a short time later was quite different.
said that members were told that road and bridge construction was going
to be a “very big portion” of the bill they’re aiming to put forward
Beyond infrastructure, it remained unclear what else will be included.
Barack Obama’s endorsement Tuesday of a program to dole out tax rebates
for homeowners who weatherize their homes offered what program sponsor
Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) called a “big shot in the arm.”
is a very practical and efficient way to create jobs immediately,”
Welch said. At the same time, Welch said he still didn’t know if House
leaders would include any or all of the $20 billion, two-year program
in their jobs bill.
And Democrats may not know until close to the last minute.
Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), an influential voice among the conservative Blue
Dog Coalition, said a “modest” investment in infrastructure along the
lines of the $75 billion would be entirely appropriate, especially if
it’s paid for with unused funds originally earmarked for the nation’s
Asked if that meant support for the jobs bill, Cooper said: “Well, we’ll have to see what gets tacked onto it.”
One thing that seemed clear to all, though, was the decision to act with or without the Senate in tow.
his caucus meeting, DeFazio said the message that House Democratic
leaders gave to their rank-and-file members was clear.
Senate is on their own time schedule and we’re going to give them an
opportunity to do something meaningful about jobs before the first of
the year,” DeFazio said. “If they pass on that opportunity, then that
would be unfortunate.”