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Economic Stimulus Package – Loans at $729K

February 7, 2008

Subject: Economic Stimulus Package Passes
Date: Thu, 07 Feb 2008 15:12:31 -0800

The bill finally passed, there was some concern it would fail because
Senate Republicans were opposed to adding an extension of unemployment
insurance, additional funds for low-income home heating assistance
programs known as LIHEAP, an energy tax package and expanded incentives
for small business investment as requested by Senate Democrats. The bill
also raises the conforming loan limit to $729,750 for high cost areas.

Article from Roll Call…

Senate Adds Seniors and Vets to Stimulus Package; Plan Headed Back to
House

Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008; 5:18 pm
By Emily Pierce,
Roll Call Staff

________________________________

After a tense week of partisan bickering over an economic stimulus plan,
Senate Democrats and Republicans quickly maneuvered today to give senior
citizens and disabled veterans tax rebate checks and passed a bill that
appeared likely to receive swift House concurrence.

By a 91-6 vote, the Senate agreed to add seniors, veterans and the
widows of veterans to a House-passed bill to provide tax rebate checks
to low- and middle-income tax filers and also added limited tax
incentives to small businesses. The vote on final passage of the bill
was 81-16.

The House was expected to quickly pass the Senate deal later today,
according to Democratic aides. House Democratic and Republican leaders
earlier had agreed to back additional benefits for seniors and veterans
and additional restrictions aimed at preventing illegal immigrants from
receiving rebate checks.

The bipartisan movement in the Senate came after Democrats failed by one
vote on Wednesday evening to get the 60 votes needed to beat back a
filibuster of a larger Senate Finance Committee package that included
seniors and veterans as well as an extension of unemployment insurance,
additional funds for low-income home heating assistance programs known
as LIHEAP, an energy tax package and expanded incentives for small
business investment.

Even though their victory was muddied by their shifting strategies over
the past week and a half, Democrats touted their ability to “improve”
the House measure in the face of stiff resistance from the White House,
Congressional Republicans and even their own party’s leadership in the
House.

“Most Senate Republicans were quick to endorse the House stimulus bill
with no revisions, even though we pointed out initially that we thought
it was inadequate and we had to add to that,” said Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) of the GOP’s position two weeks ago. “If we
had listened to the advice of our Republican colleagues … 21.5 million
seniors would have no part of this stimulus package. If we had listened
to them, 250,000 wounded Americans would have had no benefit from this.”

Reid had attempted during the Wednesday vote to convince Republicans
that they would have only one shot – through the Finance package – to
provide rebates to seniors and veterans, even though he said last week
he would hold a separate vote on the seniors and veterans question.

On Tuesday, Reid said he was “not much of a bluffer” and dared
Republicans to vote against the Finance package. But most Republicans
called Reid’s bluff on Wednesday evening and blocked the Finance package
from moving forward.

“I feel very strongly we did the right thing,” Reid said of his
take-it-or-leave-it gambit. “As a result of that, I feel very confident
we picked up two votes more. I thought we’d pick up one more. Someone
who was going to vote with us didn’t.”

Democrats persuaded eight Republicans to vote with them on Wednesday,
but they need nine to prevail.

The relatively modest changes the Senate was able to achieve Thursday
were portrayed by some Republicans as a “cave-in” to their more recent
demands to add only seniors and veterans to the House bill.

Publicly, however, Republicans lauded the deal as a win for the American
people.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called it “an important
bipartisan accomplishment.”

McConnell said the final deal “demonstrates that we are once in a while
able to come together for the country.”

Despite earlier objecting to any changes to the House bill, McConnell
said Republicans felt the simple modifications the Senate made were good
ones, and added that regardless of how the package ultimately came
together, “the news today is that we got there.”

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