Senate to Work Behind the Scenes on Stimulus, Supplemental

Posted April 11, 2008 at 3:13pm

After approving the housing compromise and playing host to Army Gen. David Petraeus, the Senate is not expected to take up major business the week of April 14, according to an aide to a senior Democratic lawmaker.

The chamber plans to consider the highway technical corrections bill, which is widely expected to pass easily.

The real work will be going on behind the scenes as Democratic leaders try to quell Republican opposition to a second stimulus package for the economy, as well as negotiating the shape of the Iraq supplemental spending bill. Both are expected to hit the floor in late April.

Democrats are pushing for a second stimulus package that would include such items as unemployment insurance and other benefits that were taken out of the first stimulus deal to avoid stalemate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) told reporters Thursday that some domestic spending items would be included in the supplemental, but did not name what items might be added or explain how the deal would be packaged.

Republicans argue that Democrats need to let the first stimulus have an effect on the economy before they seek more legislative action. A senior Republican aide mocked Democrats for seeking another economic stimulus package, saying that the coming legislation could be viewed as a third deal after the housing bill the Senate passed Thursday.

Also, the Senate may open late Thursday to allow Senators and their staff to attend Mass at the Washington Nationals baseball stadium for Pope Benedict XVI’s sermon. Earlier in the week, Reid hinted that he would open the chamber late, expecting that many lawmakers wanted to attend the service.