Gillibrand open to second, 'significant' stimulus

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said she would back another big stimulus package if unemployment remains high.

Gillibrand, in an interview Saturday with North Country Public Radio, said she could support another stimulus between $500 billion and $700 billion to help put people back to work. She said she wouldn't be surprised if lawmakers make a "second investment" to follow the $787 billion stimulus passed in February if jobs keep disappearing.

ADVERTISEMENT
"My view is if we don't have the recovery that we're looking for in the next year and a half, [another stimulus] is something I would certainly look at, and you probably want it to be on a significant magnitude if you need it," she said.

Gillibrand said she could back more money spent on energy and infrastructure projects, which could help all of New York. She added, however, that the need for another big jobs bill will depend on how well the $787 billion package works over the next few months.

While several House Democrats have said they're open to another stimulus, the Obama administration and Senate leaders have largely avoided the topic. Like Gillibrand, the White House and top Democrats in Congress have said that the current stimulus needs to be given more time to work.

Though the unemployment rate fell from 9.5 percent in June to 9.4 percent last month, Gillibrand said more job losses could come.

"I don't think we've seen exactly how high unemployment will necessarily go," she said.

The rate dropped in July for the first time in 15 months, but much of the decline was due to Americans leaving the workforce. In July, the labor force shrank by 422,000 people. In June, just 122,000 had stopped looking for jobs.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) said Congress should pass his proposed $500 billion surface transportation authorization bill to create more jobs. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has backed Oberstar's bill, said that it could serve as stimulus should one be needed later this year.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said last month that he didn't see the need for another stimulus package when just 10 percent of the $787 billion act had taken effect.