Stimulus package update

7 Feb

I knew I was running the risk of having my last post become obsolete immediately. Had I checked the news before I hit publish, I’d have seen that reports were out that the U.S. Senate had already passed their version of the bill, making it obsolete even before it was public.

OK, remember your civics classes? Or, if you are not a U.S. citizen, remember all those times that the U.S. political system seemed utterly confusing?

This is one of those times. (But, bear with me…or skip to the bottom: we need your help!)

First the House of Representatives passed their stimulus bill: H.R. 1. After they finished, they sent the bill to the Senate. The Senate, being a bunch of opinionated people, get to muck around with H.R. 1 and rewrite it. What just happened today is that the Senate passed their version of the Stimulus package. This is S.A. 98. In the process of rewriting, they added, oh, about 400 amendments to the bill. I’d love to tell you what they are, but they’ve come in so fast and furious that the government’s website hasn’t been able to catch up yet.

Many of the amendments say:

AMENDMENT PURPOSE: Purpose will be available when the amendment is proposed for consideration. See Congressional Record for text.

Here’s one that seemed good to me,

To provide an additional $6,500,000,000 to the National Institutes of Health for biomedical research.

Yep, $6.5B, with a B. That version got shot down…but this version (which appears the same in the short summary) got approved. Like I said, the U.S. Political system can be a little strange.

OK, it’s late. I don’t want to read through another 300 amendments. Especially when the amendment that has the cut to IDEA is buried in a quick summary like “to eliminate unnecessary spending”.

The word on the street (and probably somewhere on the website) is that the IDEA funding increase was cut down.

Does that mean the struggle is over? Hardly. It won’t be easy to get the funding level increased again, but keep in mind, the Senate and House versions of the bill are not the same. Before they send it to President Obama, they have to reconcile the two bills.

Or, as one news story puts it:

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said negotiators from the House and Senate would begin crafting a compromise bill on Monday, with the goal of sending legislation to President Barack Obama by the end of next week.

So, there is a chance for the the House to assert its version of IDEA funding.

In other words, now would be a good time to call, email or fax your member of congress or senators.

6 Responses to “Stimulus package update”

  1. GL February 7, 2009 at 14:36 #

    Arlen Specter spoke about the education cuts in his remarks to the Senate last night, and said that there was no reduction to special education. Seemed to imply that they could not make cuts to the special education category due to IDEA. I hope it stays that way.

  2. Zachary Lassiter February 7, 2009 at 16:25 #

    As someone who went through special education and understands how completely underfunded it is I’m against using the stimulus package to fund IDEA – actually I’m against the stimulus package all together.

    Its time for cutbacks, not spending more money we don’t have.

  3. K February 7, 2009 at 17:30 #

    GL, can you remember where you saw that? The reports that I’m reading is that special education was reduced from 13 to 6 billion.

  4. Maddy February 7, 2009 at 18:14 #

    That is a very nifty link to my congressman! I knew who he was but the contact bit [if you were ever uncertain] is very handy.

  5. GL February 7, 2009 at 19:25 #

    I heard Specter say “Special education has $13.5 billion, and we left it all in because that is a federal mandate. It is different.” I found the record of it just now…

    Unfortunately, I see at the beginning of the same page that Collins said “We included $6 billion for special education.” I had not heard her speak with the news anchors cutting in. So those are two very different answers from people that apparently had come to an agreement.

  6. Josephine DeJesse February 18, 2009 at 16:14 #

    Why is this so confusing, either Autism and Special needs are in the bill or not and how much will be allocated for this much needed malady of Autism. It seems to be a spending bill, so if so please spend it on the needs of these children. I think the parents and grandparents of an autistic child would be estatic if a link to autisim could be found to further consideration. Please give this project you utmost consideration. Also monotarly reasons it makes sense in the long run. Thank you

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