Compromise stimulus bill ready for vote
Congressional conferees on Wednesday reached agreement on a bill to inject $790 billion into the struggling economy and create jobs.
The bill includes almost $50 billion for highways, bridges and other transportation projects. States plan to use most of the money for repairs and resurfacing of existing assets that are deteriorating rather than on whole new projects that take longer to plan and execute.
The overall bill is about $40 billion less than final versions in the House and Senate and $100 billion less than the original Senate version. Three moderate Republicans insisted on the spending reductions as a price for their support.
The House could take up a vote on the measure as early as today, according to several reports. But earlier instructions passed by the House for negotiators require a 48-hour period in which the final document will be available in an electronic, searchable and downloadable database to allow members and the public to review it.
Business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Retail Industry Leaders Association, National Association of Manufacturers and the American Association of Port Authorities are urging Congress to pass the bill.
The AAPA supports the funding for highways as a way to improve overall mobility and therefore ease congestion around ports. It also likes that money is devoted to the Army Corps of Engineers for navigational improvements, imaging devices for container security at ports, diesel emission reduction programs, and electrification of docks to eliminate vessel idling at berth. It wants the final bill to include reforms for port use of certain bonds and a provision that would make port infrastructure activities eligible for the federal-aid highway assistance. ' Eric Kulisch