WASHINGTON The U.S. Congress is discussing a second economic stimulus bill that could include nearly $15 billion in infrastructure spending, a senior member of the House of Representatives told Reuters on Tuesday.
Rep. James Oberstar, a Minnesota Democrat who chairs the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said a stimulus package could include "accelerating" pay-outs of $9.5 billion from the federal trust fund dedicated to road construction and maintenance.
"You can have 700,000 people working in three months. We should have done it this spring," Oberstar said in an interview.
The money would go to funding more than 2,600 projects, he said. States would receive full federal funding and then have a few years to pay back any matching funds.
Oberstar said he had given a list of spending possibilities to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week and said that "she likes the idea."
Democrats are discussing passing another economic stimulus measure to revive the economy after approving a $152 billion measure in February, with taxpayers receiving rebates during the spring and early summer.
Oberstar said he had also recommended spending $4.07 billion on other transit projects, $250 million on the nation's passenger rail system, Amtrak, and $675 million for aviation - primarily airport projects.
Congressional aides have discussed infrastructure elements to the plan, but have not provided cost estimates or other details. The timing of any second stimulus bill remains up in the air.
The Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday postponed consideration of its version of a second stimulus plan until September, said Robert Byrd, the panel's chairman and a West Virginia Democrat.
President George W. Bush has indicated he wants to see how effective the first stimulus package is before looking at another one.
(Reporting by Lisa Lambert, John Crawley and Richard Cowan, editing by Philip Barbara)