Muckraker: Grist on Politics

The Senate is likely to vote Tuesday to move forward with the stimulus package.

The fate of the package, now weighing in at $827 billion in new spending and tax cuts, rests on whether or not senators OK a bipartisan compromise amendment from Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).

As we reported last week, the Nelson-Collins amendment would chop out some of the money for green spending. The finalized version, according to an analysis provided by sources working closely with the stimulus on Capitol Hill, would reduce the money for green projects by $6.5 billion. That includes:

  • $1 billion less for loan guarantees for renewables and transmission;
  • $3.5 billion less for green buildings;
  • $1.25 billion less for energy efficiency retrofits for public housing;
  • $300 million less for federal government acquisition of more efficient vehicles.

The reduction in the loan guarantees would bring the program down to $8.5 billion — more than the House package, which would allot $8 billion. On the public housing retrofits, the Senate pot would be significantly smaller — $118 million compared with $2.5 billion in the House package. The money for a more-efficient federal vehicle fleet would be half of what the House allocated.

Negotiations between the House and Senate won’t start until the Senate actually passes the bill, but congressional staffers are already pinpointing the divisions and trying to map a plan to reconcile the two bills.

In Other Washington News

• Karen Wayland, the legislative director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, is leaving her post to take on a new role as a policy adviser to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Wayland held the legislative job at NRDC since 2004; before joining the organization she was a legislative fellow for Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) working on nuclear waste, water, and energy issues. She holds a duel Ph.D in geology and resource development.

Roll Call reports Florida Sen. Mel Martinez (R) may retire before his term end in 2010, which would leave Gov. Charlie Crist (R) to appoint a replacement. Some are wondering if the relatively green Crist may appoint himself.

• Word is coal-fighting Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is at the top of the list to serve as Obama’se Secretary of Health and Human services. Meanwhile, CQ Politics spreads the rumor that Newt Gingrich might be considered as well. Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredensen (D) is another contender.