Stimulus Negotiations

House committees to meet on new stimulus package: Pelosi 


by Alex Ogle

Wed Oct 15, 4:44 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Key committees in the US House of Representatives will hold hearings in "coming weeks" in an effort to craft a new, multi-billion dollar stimulus package for US taxpayers, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday.

Democrat Pelosi suggested that Congress may convene in a lame duck session -- one held after the November 4 elections, but before the new Congress is sworn in January -- to pass a projected 150 billion dollar package, if the committees urge lawmakers to attempt another recovery bill for the ailing economy.

After President George W. Bush's signed into law a 168 billion dollar stimulus package earlier this year, Senate Republicans rejected a second package last month.

"Congress must try again," Pelosi said Wednesday.

"I have asked the chairs of relevant committees to schedule hearings in the coming weeks on the key provisions of a fiscally responsible recovery package to get our economy moving again," she said.

The committees include the House Budget Committee, Ways and Means Committee, Education and Labor Committee, and the Joint Economic Committee.

Pelosi said the Democrats' views on the economy are presently "being echoed by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, and current San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President Janet Yellen.

"While Chairman Volcker stated that we face a recession, President Yellen went as far as to say our economy is already in a recession," she said.

"With Americans worried about losing their jobs, their savings, their homes and their chance at the American Dream, the New Direction Congress will work in a bipartisan way to lift our economy and help America's middle class."

Pelosi said on Monday that Congress must "act expeditiously, but not hastily," to avert further financial crises in the wake of weeks of turmoil in global markets.

Bush's 168 billion dollar stimulus package, handed out in checks to taxpayers, was credited with spurring short-term economic growth, before the markets' spectacular plunges in recent weeks which has seen trillions of dollars wiped off global stock values.

On Wednesday fears grew that the financial crisis was mutating into a worldwide recession. Leaders called for new global action to counter the economic slowdown.

A new package, in the bid led by Pelosi, would include new spending on infrastructure, expansion of food stamps and unemployment insurance, and a focus on health care aid in the form of programs like Medicaid, for children and seniors.

Representative Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said Sunday that he supported Congress passing a new stimulus package.

Speaking on ABC television, Frank said lawmakers should "give the middle class and the average citizen the same kind of relief that we try to give to the financial sector," referring to the recent 700 billion dollar Wall Street bailout.