- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Responding to calls among rank-and-file Democrats for more infrastructure spending, House leaders Tuesday unveiled a plan to add almost $50 billion in spending on highways, housing, school repair as part of a year-end plan to create jobs.

The measure is aimed at keeping the fragile economic recovery on track with money for teachers, the unemployed and small businesses. A vote is planned for Wednesday.

The Senate, however, won’t act until next month at the earliest and has less of an appetite for another costly round of economic stimulus measures.

All told, the measure tops $150 billion when additional help for the unemployed and aid to strapped state and local governments is added to provisions designed to have an immediate impact on employment.

“This is legislation that brings jobs to Main Street by increasing credit for small businesses, by rebuilding the infrastructure of America, by keeping police and firefighters and teachers on the job,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat. “It’s a bill that creates jobs, that meets the needs those who are unemployed and puts us on a path to prosperity.”

But the measure is certain to come under assault from Republicans, who say February’s $787 billion economic stimulus bill has done little to boost the economy and hasn’t prevented the jobless rate from reaching double digits.

Details were still under discussion Tuesday afternoon. But a draft of the measure includes:

c About $35 billion for highways and mass transit.

c More than $20 billion to pay teacher salaries in an attempt to save or create about 250,000 education jobs.

c Some $2 billion for job training, summer jobs for teenagers and for AmeriCorps.

c A guarantee of six months of unemployment checks and a 65 percent federal subsidy for health insurance premiums for the jobless.

c Extending the $1,000-per-child tax credit to 16 million poor families.

c Help for states to pay for the Medicaid program for the poor and disabled.

House Democrats had hoped much of the legislation could have actually become law before year’s end by adding the jobs legislation to a must-pass Pentagon budget bill. But the Senate said no, prompting frustrated Democratic leaders to advance the legislation although the Senate won’t act as it is consumed by health care legislation.

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