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Update on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R. 1/S.1)

On Wednesday, January 28th, the US House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The bill passed with a vote of 244 - 188, with no Republicans voting for the bill. The House bill includes $526.5 billion in spending and $275 billion in tax cuts, of that spending figure only about 5% will go toward infrastructure. Several amendments to the bill were adopted during the day, including one that boosts transit spending from $9 billion to $12 billion, a "use it of lose it" provision that requires 50 percent of the money for infrastructure is obligated within 90 days, and an amendment clarifying that highway maintenance money in the bill cannot supplant existing state funds. Two notable amendments that were defeated were a provision to take the $800 million for Amtrak out of the bill and a GOP motion to recommit the bill that would have added $36 billion for highways and $24 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, while cutting spending for many other programs.

The final version of H.R. 1 does include nearly $5 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, with $2 billion going toward construction, $250 million for projects on the Mississippi River and Tributaries, $2.2 billion for Operations and Maintenance, and $25 million for regulatory programs. Finally, water resources programs received $500 million in funding. Some programs included in the $500 million are $126 million for water reclamation and reuse projects and $80 million for rural water projects, such as water intake and treatment facilities.

The bill will now be taken up by the Senate and a vote can possibly be expected as early as next week. The Senate stimulus package, S. 1, was approved in separate pieces by the Senate Finance and Appropriations committees this week and already totals about $888 billion, mainly due to the inclusion of a one - year patch to prevent the alternative minimum tax from hitting taxpayers in 2009.

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