WASHINGTON, D.C.--After days of leading bipartisan negotiations, U.S. Sens. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) announced an agreement on an amendment to the Economic Recovery Act currently before the Senate. The Nelson-Collins amendment would reduce the total cost of the package to $780 billion--$110 billion less than the bill that the Senate is currently considering.
"This bipartisan agreement delivers the help millions of Americans need in this time of economic turmoil," said Senator Nelson. "It fuels two powerful engines: major tax cuts for the middle class, and targeted investments in American infrastructure and job growth. It also pares back $110 billion of spending that didn't belong in the bill. We've trimmed the fat, fried the bacon, and milked the sacred cows. What remains will fund education, an energy Smart Grid, tax credits for homebuyers and other critical infrastructure."
"This deal represents a victory for the American people," said Senator Collins. "We came together to tackle the most immediate problem facing the nation. This package cuts $110 billion in unnecessary expenditures. These are not minor adjustments, but major changes. It contains robust spending on infrastructure to create jobs, $87 billion in assistance for states, and assistance to schools, especially for special education and Pell grants. This bill is not perfect, but it represents a bipartisan, effective and targeted approach to the crisis facing our country."
Some highlights of the Nelson-Collins agreement include:
* $7 billion in rural broadband infrastructure
* $1.87 billion for Community Health Center infrastructure
* $64.4 billion for our nation's K-12 educational system
* $19 billion for a 10% non-refundable tax credit (capped at $15,000) for any home purchase
* $6.4 billion for a down payment on the Energy Superhighway and a Smart Grid
* $9.6 billion renewable energy investments
* $250 million in rural renewable energy Investments
* $42 billion in transportation infrastructure investments
* $6.4 billion for environmental infrastructure including water and sewer infrastructure
* $87 billion in temporary and targeted Medicaid relief to states
* $70 billion for a one year fix for the Alternative Minimum Tax
* $13.9 billion more for Pell Grants to help thousands of college students pay for increases in college costs.
* $13 billion more for Special Education/IDEA to improve education for disabled children
* $3.5 billion for law enforcement, including $1.2 billion for popular Byrne grants for drug task forces.