House, Senate Strike Deal On Stimulus
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
And I'm Melissa Block.
Well, we thought there was a deal. Today, Senators paraded before microphones saying a compromise had been struck on a stimulus package between the Senate and the House. They even congratulated each other on the quick work. But now, it turns out, there is still some negotiating to do.
NPR's Andrea Seabrook joins us from the Capitol. Andrea, what's going on?
ANDREA SEABROOK: Well, Melissa, I can tell you that right now top Democrats in the House of Representatives are meeting with leadership to review the deal that the Senators came out, not even an hour ago, saying was done. It turns out there are some last minute snags in the negotiations. House Democrats, specifically those towards the left of the political spectrum are angry that Senators took out of the bill a lot of money for aid to the states and for school reconstruction.
Of course, these things had to be stripped out of the bill to get the extra three votes, or, really, two, but three Republican votes that they needed over on the Senate side to pass this thing. So, it's still a matter of shuttle diplomacy at this point. Sources are telling me that it's not blown up. This is going to happen, but don't call it done, yet.
BLOCK: But where do they reconcile on those issues then? They meet somewhere in the middle, a little bit gone, but some of it put back?
SEABROOK: Well, that's what they had - that's what the Senate deal - the deal that all the Senators said was done, did to this thing. It lifted up the number from $39 billion in aid to the states to $44 billion in aid to the states. Of course, the Senate wanted, I mean, the House of Representatives, Democrats wanted $79 billion. So, you know, it's just numbers, up, down, back, forth.
It's almost like a, you know, it's almost like bartering here, between these two sides. And it's hard to know where it will come down in the end, except that those three Republicans, who seemed to be holding the key to this whole thing, will not vote for anything that is above $790 billion worth of tax cuts and spending. So, it will have to be up to that feeling.
BLOCK: And those three Republicans - Senators: Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.
SEABROOK: Yes, those are the three. And interestingly, I've been told by people on all sides that were really the center of gravity of this whole thing. I asked one top Democratic aide if this was getting a glimpse of what the next two years will be like. I mean, the Democrats have super majority in the House. They do not have a super majority in the Senate. They don't have enough to stop filibusters, and so, a tiny handful of Republican Senators can control the whole thing. I asked this aide that - if this is what it was going to look like - he said, gosh, I hope not.
BLOCK: Well, Andrea, as much as you understand, given that there are still some details to be worked out, what's in this compromise?
SEABROOK: Well, this I can tell you. Again, it looks like the top line is going to be $789.5 billion. It breaks down to about 35 percent of the bill in tax cuts, 65 percent would be in spending. There is a deal to bring the individual tax cuts for working families down to $400 for individuals, 800 for couples, $44 billion in aid to the states. Again, that's - people are messing with that number right now.
It adds money to help people buy health insurance through COBRA, a lot of things like that, including, don't forget, money for construction and infrastructure projects.
BLOCK: Okay, and final details still to come.
SEABROOK: Still to come.
BLOCK: NPR's congressional correspondent, Andrea Seabrook. Thanks a lot.