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Some highlights of stimulus plan

WASHINGTON – Now that there’s a tentative agreement on the economic stimulus plan that President Barack Obama and other supporters hope will provide a considerable jolt to the economy, how long will it take to get infrastructure and other projects moving? And do economists think the plan is big enough to create millions of jobs? Here are some questions and answers about the latest version of the stimulus initiative.

Agreement reached on $789 billion measure

Moving with lightning speed, key members of the Senate announced agreement Wednesday on a $790 billion stimulus bill to create millions of jobs, and said President Barack Obama could sign the bill within days.

Senate OKs $838 billion stimulus bill

WASHINGTON – Senators began talks with the House on Tuesday to determine which tax breaks and spending provisions will survive as part of a final stimulus package, but despite the optimism leaders in both chambers expressed about quickly resolving their differences, the negotiations are expected to be contentious. Senate Democrats won passage of their version of the legislation yesterday by the narrowest of margins, leaving little room for negotiators to maneuver.

Senate, Fed, Treasury attack economic crisis

WASHINGTON — On a single day filled with staggering sums, the Obama administration, Federal Reserve and Senate attacked the deepening economic crisis today with actions that could throw as much as $3 trillion more in government and private funds into the fight against frozen credit markets and rising joblessness.

Stimulus oversight could be costly

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration’s economic stimulus plan could end up wasting billions of dollars by attempting to spend money faster than an overburdened government acquisition system can manage and oversee it, according to documents and interviews with contracting specialists. The $820 billion stimulus legislation under debate in Congress includes provisions aimed at ensuring oversight of the massive infusion of contracts, state grants and other measures. At the urging of the administration, those provisions call for transparency, bid competition, new auditing resources and new oversight boards.

Vote on stimulus plan put off

WASHINGTON – Senate leaders called off plans to vote on President Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan Thursday night in hopes that a group of centrist lawmakers from both parties would be able to fashion a compromise that would cut the cost of the $937 billion bill and win support from at least a few Republicans. After a long day of behind-the-scenes negotiations, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., dropped plans to hold a final vote on the bill as the bipartisan group of centrists worked into the night to trim as much as $100 billion, an attempt to bring moderate Republicans on board without driving Democrats away.

Senate OKs raft of tax breaks

WASHINGTON – The Senate voted Wednesday night to give a tax break of up to $15,000 to homebuyers in hopes of revitalizing the housing industry, a victory for Republicans eager to leave their mark on a mammoth economic stimulus bill at the heart of President Barack Obama’s recovery plan. The tax break was approved without dissent and came on a day in which Obama pushed back pointedly against Republican critics of the legislation even as he reached across party lines to consider a reduction in the spending it contains. Democratic leaders have pledged to have legislation ready for Obama’s signature by the end of next week.

Congress postpones digital TV switch to June

WASHINGTON — After weeks of debate, Congress is giving consumers four more months to prepare for the upcoming transition from analog to digital television broadcasting.

Obama signs kids’ health insurance bill

President Barack Obama signed a bill Wednesday extending health coverage to 4 million uninsured children, a much-needed win a day after he lost his nominee to lead his drive for sweeping health care reform.

Boxer pushes energy measure

WASHINGTON – Sen. Barbara Boxer on Tuesday announced that the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee would draft a new climate bill that would help consumers avoid higher prices and create new jobs in clean energy. “We all understand the urgent need for action, and this is a great way to reinvigorate the economy,” Boxer said as she outlined the principles she wanted included in a bill to limit and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Senate opens stimulus debate

WASHINGTON – With the economy still spiraling downward and the political landscape in flux, the Senate on Monday opened debate on an $885 billion stimulus plan that faces bipartisan questions about whether it spends too little on housing and infrastructure and too much on other things. President Barack Obama’s ambitious plan is headed for more than a week of robust debate in the Senate, where it faces a stronger possibility of winning at least some bipartisan support than it had in the House. Not a single House Republican voted for it last week.

Nothing’s off the table in Senate stimulus talks

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate this week will debate the future of the American economy. Everything’s up for discussion and subject to largely unpredictable votes: how to levy taxes, create jobs, help people buy homes, reinvigorate ailing state and local governments.

Obama readying road map for spending

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Saturday promised to lower mortgage costs, offer job-creating loans for small businesses, get credit flowing and rein in free-spending executives as he readies a new road map for spending billions from the second installment of the financial rescue plan. The White House is deciding how to structure the remaining half of the $700 billion that Congress approved last year to save financial institutions and lenders. An announcement was possible as early as this coming week on an approach that would use a range of tools to unfreeze credit, helping families and businesses.

Our View: Federal expansion of health care program overdue

Two years ago, President Bush vetoed legislation that would’ve expanded health care coverage for children, and Congress was unable to muster the votes for an override. But the issue is back, and Congress is on the verge of adopting a similar bill, with a long-overdue sweetener for Washington state. Following earlier action by the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a bill to bolster the popular State Children’s Health Insurance Program. The bill would cover 4.1 million more children, bringing the total to 11 million. The cost is $32.8 billion over 4 1/2 years and is to be paid for with a 61 cent tax on a pack of cigarettes.

Senate moves to expand health insurance for kids

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama and his congressional allies took a modest step toward reshaping the nation’s health care system Thursday as the Senate passed legislation to expand health insurance for children. But rather than building momentum for the sweeping reform Obama has promised, the victory on Capitol Hill – a largely party-line 66-32 vote – marked a rocky start for what many hope will be the biggest reform campaign in a generation.

House passes $819 billion stimulus package

WASHINGTON – In the first major test of President Barack Obama’s ability to push his ambitious agenda through Congress, the House on Wednesday approved the largest attempt since World War II to use the federal budget to redirect the course of the nation’s economy. Obama had worked hard to gain bipartisan support for the $819 billion stimulus package, beginning to negotiate possible compromises with Republicans even before entering the White House. But the measure passed on a strict party-line vote, 244-188. No Republican supported the bill, and only 11 out of 255 Democrats opposed it.

Mail may show up less often after cut

WASHINGTON – Worsening economic conditions and the changing habits of Americans are threatening to do to the U.S. Postal Service what few things can: stop delivery of the mail, at least for a day. In testimony before a Senate subcommittee Wednesday, Postmaster General John “Jack” Potter said the post office may be forced to cut back to five-day delivery for the first time in the agency’s history, citing rising costs and an ongoing decline in mail made worse by the global recession.

House rejects DTV delay

WASHINGTON – House Republicans on Wednesday defeated a bill to postpone the upcoming transition from analog to digital television broadcasting to June 12 – leaving an estimated 6.5 million U.S. households unprepared for the currently scheduled Feb. 17 switchover. But the battle over a delay may not be over, with some predicting the House will take up the measure again next week.

House defeats bill to delay digital TV transition

Bucking the Obama administration, House Republicans on Wednesday defeated a bill to delay the upcoming transition from analog to digital television broadcasting to June 12 — leaving an estimated 6.5 million U.S. households unprepared for the switchover.