Negotiators Reach Deal on $789B Stimulus Bill

Wasting no time, key lawmakers announced Wednesday afternoon they had reached an agreement on a $789 billion stimulus bill, which could land on President Barack Obama’s desk by the end of the week. The final agreement is budgeted at about $50 billion less than the one attached to the measure passed by the Senate Tuesday.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the final agreement “creates more jobs than the original Senate bill and costs less than the original House bill.” The new version apparently includes aid for the unemployed in the form of unemployment benefits, food stamps, and health coverage, and preserves Obama’s championed tax cut — for millions of lower and middle income taxpayers. House Democrats also succeeded in reinstating funds for school construction projects and increasing aid to state governments, as almost $60 billion was slashed from those two programs alone, in efforts to gain approval from GOP moderates last week. In the end, negotiators cut a Senate-passed provision for a new $15,000 homebuyer tax credit, officials said, according to Yahoo News. Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) had warned early Wednesday the Senate would likely cut back on the 35.5 billion originally set aside for this tax credit. The overall cost of the bill was trimmed significantly by altering tax provisions and cutting back on some Medicaid funding. The three moderate Republicans who voted for the Senate’s measure – Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania – made it clear Tuesday they were adamant the final bill resemble the Senate’s version of the bill — particularly in the area of tax cuts.  All three are expected to support the final measure. “This is obviously a very difficult vote,” Specter said. “But I believe its indispensable that strong action be taken.” Write to Kelly Curran at Disclosure: The author held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.

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