Feb 4 (Reuters) - A massive economic stimulus bill is winding its way through the U.S. Congress, pushed by Democratic leaders who want to present President Barack Obama with legislation he can sign by mid-February.
Here is the status of the $819 billion bill passed in the House of Representatives on Jan. 28 and a similar plan being debated in the Senate. Both are controversial and aim to jump-start an economy in recession since December 2007:
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
* The House passed the Democratic version of the legislation without any support from Republicans. The $819 billion includes, in figures that are rounded up:
- $358 billion in emergency spending on construction projects and other investments aimed at creating jobs. It also includes a boost in federal investment in education and an expansion of food aid programs.
- $275 billion in temporary tax cuts for workers, tax incentives to produce renewable energy and breaks for builders and other companies that would be allowed to write off current losses against five previous tax years.
- $48 billion to help unemployed people keep their health insurance and to invest in health information technology.
- $46 billion for expanded unemployment benefits and aid to needy families and child support.
- $100 billion that includes money to improve broadband Internet access, invest more in clean energy and energy efficiency. It also has about $87 billion to help states pay increasing Medicaid health insurance costs for the poor.
* The Senate began debate on Monday on its version of the bill, which is now just over $900 billion, not counting government interest payments on the borrowed money. The money would be spent this way, although major changes are possible:
- $365.6 billion for construction projects, to improve the health care system and other priorities. The spending is similar to the House bill’s.
- $522 billion in tax cuts and other spending provisions on programs like health care and grants to states. It also includes a one-year fix of the Alternative Minimum Tax to shield middle-class taxpayers from paying a tax originally intended only for the wealthiest taxpayers, a provision that costs almost $70 billion alone.
- $11 billion in tax incentives aimed at boosting U.S. automobile sales, which have been plunging. Interest payments on car loans would be tax deductible for new cars bought from Nov. 12, 2008 through 2009.
STILL TO COME:
* Before trying to pass the bill, the Senate will wade through many amendments, including several from Republicans that would kill parts or all of the Democrats’ spending provisions. Instead, they would focus on a series of tax breaks. Obama is consulting with Democratic and Republican senators and says he is open to fresh ideas.
* Senate leaders are hoping to pass their version of the bill this week. If and when that happens, House and Senate negotiators would meet to work out differences next week.
* Democrats hope final votes on one bill would be held next week, with Obama signing it into law promptly. (Compiled by Richard Cowan and Jeremy Pelofsky; editing by David Wiessler)
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