Congress, Obama negotiate economic recovery legislation

Posted on January 9, 2009

President-elect Barack Obama met with House and Senate leaders to discuss options for economic recovery legislation as the 111th Congress convened this week.

The President-elect continues to express support for infrastructure investment in a stimulus bill, but this week Obama also emphasized tax cuts as a means to help the U.S. economy. The incoming Administration is reportedly considering a stimulus plan valued at approximately $775 billion, a considerably larger package than the $61 billion stimulus bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in September.

Regarding infrastructure, the President-elect released a preliminary plan that calls for $25 billion in immediate investment in a variety of infrastructure activities and $60 billion in new transportation investment under a proposed National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank, an element of the Obama-Biden campaign platform.

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) identified $47.8 billion in transit needs that could be met in a two-year stimulus bill, and the APTA economic stimulus survey has identified more than $12 billion of "ready-to-go" projects that could be advanced in fewer than 90 days.

According to U.S. Department of Transportation estimates, if $47.8 billion were invested in public transportation immediately, more than 1.3 million green jobs could be supported in the next two years. The President-elect and several key members of Congress have stated that infrastructure spending will not be earmarked, indicating that formula funding will likely be a large component of any public transportation or highway spending in a stimulus bill, but some proposals have included funding for New Starts/Small Starts and it is not yet clear how those funds would be distributed.

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