- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Senate on Wednesday tossed a taxpayer-funded lifeline to financially strapped states, advancing a bill that would extend parts of last year’s stimulus bill to cover more health care costs and fund more state and local government jobs.

Final passage is all but assured later this week after Democrats, joined by two Republicans, overcame a GOP-led filibuster. The move now puts pressure on the House, which already has left for a six-week summer vacation, to reconvene for a special session.

“Today, the United States Senate did its job. We saved people’s jobs,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, who upped the pressure on his House colleagues by saying it would be “difficult” for them to leave hundreds of thousands of state teachers, firefighters and police officers without funding until September.

The vote to overcome the filibuster was 61-38, with Sens. Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins, both Maine Republicans, joining the entire Democratic caucus in supporting the bill.

The new spending was paid for by rejiggering some taxes and cutting existing spending, including more than $2 billion from last year’s $862 billion stimulus bill. Earlier this week, Mr. Reid had to delay a vote in order to find another $4 billion in revenue to cover the entire cost of the bill.

Most of the revenue is generated in the later years — the bill still leaves a $22 billion deficit in fiscal year 2011, according to Republicans who opposed the measure.

They said the first stimulus failed, and questioned why the federal government should continue to fund state and local government jobs when the private sector is suffering more.

“Americans are more intent than ever on reversing the trend of centralizing more power in Washington. They’re alarmed at the fact that the federal government is now, for the first time in our history, the single largest source of revenue for the states,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican.

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