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Senate Might Take Up Stimulus During Lame Duck -- Reid

Alex Kaplun, E&ENews PM reporter

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) joined House Democratic leaders yesterday saying Congress should take up a sprawling stimulus bill when it returns for a lame-duck session shortly after the election.

The package is expected to cost about $150 billion and would likely include initiatives for transportation projects and infrastructure, assistance to offset residential energy costs, and additional unemployment and housing benefits.

"In recent weeks, Washington responded to the financial crisis by quickly developing a bipartisan plan to restore stability to the financial markets," Reid said. "It's long past time to deliver that same help directly to working families in Nevada and throughout the country."

Reid said his package would incorporate many of the ideas proposed by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has likewise asked several committee chairmen to hold hearings on what should be included in a second stimulus package, though she has yet to say when the House would try to move such a bill.

The White House, meanwhile, signaled today that it could have problems with such stimulus legislation, saying in particular that it is unclear that transportation spending would do much to help the economy.

"Infrastructure projects by themselves don't necessarily stimulate the economy," White House press secretary Dana Perino said today. "We don't necessarily think that it's a good idea to try to put taxpayer dollars toward specific projects in specific districts."

Both the White House and Republican congressional leaders have indicated they would not support a stimulus package that is as large as the one that Democratic leaders are preparing to promote.

"The proposals that were put forward we did not think would actually stimulate the economy," Perino said, referring to ideas floated by Democrats just before they adjourned this month. "There might have been some meritorious proposals on various issues, but we don't necessarily think that they would help bring money into the economy."

The Senate is scheduled to return for the lame-duck session Nov. 17. The House has yet to formally announce that it would return to Washington this year.

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