House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that a $150 billion economic stimulus plan is needed now because of the faltering economy and she may call the House into session after the election to pass it.
Pelosi told reporters that the stock market meltdown, which has caused an estimated $2 trillion loss from pension funds, was a factor in her recommendation for a second stimulus bill. The first relief plan sent out $600-$1,200 tax rebate checks to most individuals and couples this year.
The House did pass a $61 billion economic aid proposal last month before lawmakers left Capitol Hill ahead of the Nov. 4 election. But a similar plan failed to pass the Senate. President Bush had promised a veto anyway.
If Democratic nominee Barack Obama wins the White House and if Capitol Hill Democrats make gains in the elections as well, it might be easier to pass a stimulus measure over dispirited Republicans, especially if the economy remains in big trouble.
The Senate is expected to be back at work after Election Day to complete a public lands bill and perhaps deal with other matters, such as a measure to extend unemployment benefits. The House also could return to consider a stimulus plan and additional issues in a lame-duck session before the newly elected Congress takes over in January.
“We may have to go back into session before the next Congress,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi said a stimulus package would create jobs by investing in public works, increasing food stamps benefits and extending unemployment insurance for the long-term jobless. She said lawmakers need to “hunker down” and look closely at the federal budget for possible savings, and reconsider whether the U.S. can afford to fight “a war without end” in Iraq.
“We have some very harsh decisions to make and some of them can’t wait until January,” said Pelosi, D-Calif.
“What we can’t wait for is a stimulus package,” Pelosi added. “We may have to go back into session before the next Congress.”