A Feb. 10 Fed Page article about the economic stimulus packages under consideration by Congress incorrectly reported that a General Services Administration program to increase energy efficiency in federal buildings would receive $45 million in the Senate bill, $15 million less than in the House version. The program would actually receive $4.5 billion under the Senate version, or $1.5 billion less than under the House version.
In Stimulus Bills, A Windfall for Agency Budgets
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The economic stimulus packages under consideration on Capitol Hill represent a massive financial windfall for agencies across the federal government. Taken together, they could lead to more spending for "green" initiatives, the upgrading of federal buildings and facilities, and improved health-care services.
But for many of those agencies, the amount they receive will depend heavily on whether the House or Senate's preferred spending plan prevails.
While both measures would cost about the same, the $819 billion version the House passed last month includes considerably more spending on federal agencies and programs than the $838 billion version that awaits a final vote by the Senate today.
That Senate bill was negotiated by moderates led by Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). It relies more heavily on tax breaks than spending to stimulate the economy than does the House-passed measure.
Nelson's "goal from the outset when the House bill came to the Senate was to eliminate non-stimulative spending, and focus on job creation, saving existing jobs and providing a near-term boost to the economy," said Jake Thompson, a spokesman for the Nebraska senator.
Collins thinks that the regular appropriations process is the proper vehicle for considering many of the spending proposals that would not immediately boost the economy, an aide said.
The Collins-Nelson amendments would completely cut funding designated for prevention efforts at the discretion of the secretary of health and human services, including money to screen for diseases and for immunizations. Senators originally allocated $5.8 billion for such efforts, while the House approved $3 billion for them.
Some environmentally sensitive federal programs are among the areas that would receive less under the Senate approach.
For example, a General Services Administration program to purchase alternative-fuel vehicles and plug-in hybrids for federal fleets would receive $300 million under the Senate version, half as much as is included in the House version. A GSA program to increase energy efficiency in federal buildings would receive $45 million in the Senate bill, $15 million less than in the House version.
The Department of Energy's weatherization assistance program would receive $6.2 billion under the House bill, more than twice as much as the $2.9 billion in the Senate version.
Yet in some areas, the Senate measure would provide substantially more money than the House bill. Funding for Defense Department environmental cleanup, for example, would receive $5.5 billion under the Senate legislation, or more than 10 times as much as the House version.