The Washington Post reports that Congressional Democrats and Republicans have crafted a final version of the economic stimulus package:
House and Senate negotiators reached agreement today on a stimulus plan with a cost of about $789 billion after scaling down the versions passed by both houses, congressional leaders announced.
[Majority Leader Harry Reid] said the final version “creates more jobs than the original Senate bill and spends less than the original House bill.” The bill passed by the Senate yesterday totaled $838 billion. The House version approved last week had a price tag of $819 billion.
Reid said the bill would create 3.5 million jobs and fulfill President Obama’s pledge to cut taxes for 95 percent of American families. He said the final bill would be put to a vote on the Senate floor “in the next few days, maybe as early as tomorrow.”
“This has been a give and take,” Reid said, adding that “the House is part of this arrangement.”
If Reid’s assessment is accurate then I’m happy with the legislation; I still worry that the bill isn’t big enough and contains a lot of the wrong kind of spending, but this bill is necessary for our economic recovery.
Of course, now I’m interested in which Republicans will change their minds and vote for the final stimulus package. The difference between the prior version and the final version is $49 billion; I wonder if that will really be the line between Republicans voting to save our economy and Republicans obstructing economic recovery.
UPDATE: I agree with Ben Smith’s take on this:
My first instinct is that, despite some handwringing, it’s hard not to see this as a pretty clean win for the president. During the transition Obama called for a stimulus package in that ballpark, and said he hoped to get it through by first week in February.
It’s February 11, just a few days late, and he appears to have more or less what he wanted. He’s now going to get credit for massive spending on thousands of popular projects, further enhancing his political capital, at least for now.
He, and the plan, will be judged on the larger course of the economy. But this deal appears to leave a strong president even stronger.