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February 2nd, 2009
10:17 PM ET

Senate Democrats drop two controversial provisions from stimulus package

Dana Bash
CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent

Senate Democrats have dropped two controversial spending programs in the Senate economic stimulus bill: $75 million dollars for anti-smoking programs, and $400 million for STD and HIV prevention.

Two Democratic leadership sources tell CNN Monday Democrats did it as a “symbolic gesture” to show Republicans they are listening to their objections.

But one of the Democratic sources also conceded “it’s hard to explain when you’re in the midst of a crisis, why these programs are important. When people are struggling and thinking about their jobs, it’s hard to make that connection.”

Republicans, and even some Democrats, have been pointing to both of these items as prime examples of “excess spending” that doesn’t belong in this stimulus bill.

But there are, of course, many other programs that Republican senators, and even some conservative Democrats still want to scrub from the bill.

Meanwhile, House Republican leaders put out the following list of provisions in the Senate version of the stimulus that they call "wasteful":

  • $2 billion earmark to re-start FutureGen, a near-zero emissions coal power plant in Illinois that the Dept. of Energy defunded last year because the project was inefficient
  • A $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film
  • $650 million for the digital television (DTV) converter box coupon program
  • $88 million for the Coast Guard to design a new polar icebreaker (arctic ship)
  • $448 million for constructing the Dept. of Homeland Security headquarters
  • $248 million for furniture at the new Dept. of Homeland Security headquarters
  • $600 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees
  • $400 million for the CDC to screen and prevent STD's
  • $1.4 billion for a rural waste disposal programs
  • $125 million for the Washington, D.C. sewer system
  • $150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities
  • $1 billion for the 2010 Census, which has a projected cost overrun of $3 billion
  • $75 million for "smoking cessation activities"
  • $200 million for public computer centers at community colleges
  • $75 million for salaries of employees at the FBI
  • $25 million for tribal alcohol and substance abuse reduction
  • $500 million for flood reduction projects on the Mississippi River
  • $10 million to inspect canals in urban areas
  • $6 billion to turn federal buildings into "green" buildings
  • $500 million for state and local fire stations
  • $650 million for wildland fire management on Forest Service lands
  • $150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities
  • $1.2 billion for "youth activities," including youth summer job programs
  • $88 million for renovating the headquarters of the Public Health Service
  • $412 million for CDC buildings and property
  • $500 million for building and repairing NIH facilities in Bethesda, MD
  • $160 million for "paid volunteers" at the Corporation for National and Community Service
  • $5.5 million for "energy efficiency initiatives" at the VA "National Cemetery Administration"
  • $850 million for Amtrak
  • $100 million for reducing the hazard of lead-based paint
  • $75M to construct a new "security training" facility for State Dept Security officers when they can be trained at existing facilities of other agencies.
  • $110 million to the Farm Service Agency to upgrade computer systems
  • $200 million in funding for the lease of alternative energy vehicles for use on military installations.

Filed under: Dana Bash • Economy • President Barack Obama • Raw Politics
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. tina

    You know, not really sure where to post this comment but it seems to me, the best way to stimulate the economy and save the government some money is to provide a "plan" that is pure and simple. Give any 18 year old tax paying U.S. citizen (KEYWORD TAX PAYING) $1 million dollars and save lots of money. I'm sure most folks would take the money, pay off debt and then go shopping! Imagine!

    February 3, 2009 at 10:10 am |
  2. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    There is so much "porkolus" in this package, it could redefine pork as something else than the other white meat. Keep trimming boys--–you will eventually get to the bones.

    February 3, 2009 at 9:28 am |
  3. Don

    I think the democrats have gone over the line by not working with the republicans on this stimulus bill, and adding pork to the bill is a slap in the face of all Americans who are looking to congress for help. This is not what Pres. Obama wants from congress.

    February 3, 2009 at 9:22 am |
  4. Derrick P.

    When will they help people from getting laid off? Instead of putting millions of dollars into trash programs.

    February 3, 2009 at 8:33 am |
  5. Alex

    Why on earth is it so difficult for these politicians to see the difference between what is ACTUALLY needed to stimulate the economy and what is pork? This inability to distinguish our needs are no different than their buddies in the corporate world that is sucking us all dry. Wake up!

    February 3, 2009 at 8:29 am |
  6. Robert B. Back

    I am sick & tired of this stimulus package! It is not going to help the economy, it will put more money into the "best & the brightest" that ran our large companies into the ground! They are not the best and the brightest, but the "greediest". Give the money to small companies which truly drive the US economy – not the large, multi-national corporations that pay little if any corporation tax! Wall Street companies, seeking government, gave out almost $18-Billion in bonuses and want to lay off thousands, lets see, if you pay people $100,000/year, you could keep 180,000 jobs for that amount of money – why not lower or erase the bonuses and keep the workers and truly help the economy instead of paying for corporate jets, designing offices, etc.,. Let these companies die or deal with their own stupidities. I run a small company and work hard every day to not make the stupid mistakes these supposedly intelligent people make! Bigger is not always better!

    February 3, 2009 at 8:13 am |
  7. Gene Penszynski from Vermont

    All this talk of 'pork' is somewhat misplaced. As long as the money stays here using American made products and American labor no matter what its spent for it is stimulative. What is NOT stimulative is giving some Corporation a tax break or bailout money only to see those forgone revenues sent overseas to set up sweat shop factories using sweatshop COMMUNIST CHINESE or SOCIALIST INDIAN SLAVE LABOR. What is not stimulative is letting Wall Street Economic THUGS get bonus Tax Payer dollars only to put them in offshore bank accounts or invest in COMMUNIST CHINESES or SOCILAIST INDIAN companies.

    February 3, 2009 at 5:45 am |
  8. Dan the Saints Fan

    It appears that Republicans are doing the dirty work of Rush, who recently said he wants Obama to fail, regardless of Americans.

    Why wouldn’t they support a proven policy to get Americans working?
    In the 90's, we invested in Åmericans, and created a record surplus.
    Why haven’t they learned that unfunded tax cuts for the rich don’t cut it?
    Look at what happened to our surplus. It's now a record deficit.
    Why can’t they admit that Clinton put Americans to work, and created a record surplus with a similar economic plan?

    It didn’t take Bush long to blow our surplus with his unfunded tax-cuts to the rich, and massive funding for projects in Iraqis. The Republicans failed miserably. They had their chance, and they blew it. It’s time for them to sit down and shut up.

    Funny how some people want to call investing in America “pork,” and yet they never said a word when HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS (unfunded) went to rebuild Iraq. That is how they ran up the debt so high, along with unfunded tax cuts for the rich. It's time to invest in America ans average Americans AGAIN.

    If we want to know how to improve the economy, put Americans to work, build the working class, and create a surplus, I would ask Clinton. I would NOT ask Republicans who got us into this mess.

    I can’t believe Republicans have not learned from their failures, and are trying to stop progress. It really looks like they are doing the dirty work of Rush (who recently said he wants Obama to fail), rather than supporting a proven policy to make America stronger. Instead, they want to be obstructionists. The republicans are being very un-American.

    I totally support the stimulus package. Even if some want to knit-pick a few parts they don't understand, I know it will invest money in things that are past-due, or save money in the future. Why wait? We need to stop this major recession slide now. Please pass the stimulus bill.

    February 3, 2009 at 3:52 am |
  9. Terri

    If the government really wants to help the low and middle income citizens, they need to give a bulk of the money to the legal citizens above the age of 18 and not any more to the banks or the auto industry. It has been mentioned that the bill includes an additional $12-$14 more a week. What is that going to do? It's a joke if this is what the President is referring to as putting more money in the pockets of the low and middle class. Since many people have lost huge amounts of money in their 401k, lost their job, or their financial future is uncertain, an additional $50 a month is not going to make them feel comfortable about regularly spending. Myself ,I will use that money and more just to pay my property taxes that have increased and of course spring is coming so gas prices will be increasing. Why not give $100k – $200k or more to every legal citizen over the age of 18? It could even be based on where the person lives. Obviously, if you live in rural IN it's cheaper to live than if you live in Chicago or New York. By giving a large amount of money to the people, this would put money back into the banks because people could pay off their mortgage, a person could buy a car so the auto industry could pay off their loan to the government, it would ease the stress for awhile if someone has lost their job or perhaps may lose their job. It would give someone an opportunity to go to school and may be learn a new trade or obtain a degree that would make them more marketable. Not to mention it may give somone an opportunity to own their own business. It would also help the foreclosures because people would now have the money to pay their mortgage instead of losing their home. This would also ease stress because that would buy someone time needed until the real estate market turns around. By doing this, it would definately put more money in the pocket of the low and middle class so there would be higher chance of spending. I'm sure there are people like myself that would pay off bills and spend if they were given a large bulk of money. Plus, more people like myself may want to invest some money which in turn would help the banks and the stock market. It may help someone to offset some of their losses that have occurred in their 401k and any other investments. I feel if the government really wants and cares to help the low and middle class they need to reconsider the amount that will be given.

    February 3, 2009 at 1:57 am |
  10. jennifer

    With all the recent announcements of companies laying thousands of people off. Should an incentive for businesses to keep their current employees employed be a part of the Stimulus package? Keeping people working is the simplest way to drive the economy.

    February 3, 2009 at 1:36 am |
  11. Linda

    Come on lets get moving on with the stimulant bill . The longer you wait the more job that are lost,the more homeless poeole,and the more hungry childern there will be..

    February 3, 2009 at 1:35 am |
  12. Beth

    It seems to me that re-sodding the national mall will create jobs – not for the $18 billion crowd but for the family hoping to have their unemployment extended or their health care reinstated! You can bet they will not throw expensive parties/retreats. They will probably pay for something like, oh let me think, their mortgage!

    February 3, 2009 at 1:25 am |
  13. Franky

    Good lord Dana, this is more work I've seen from Congress since I seen Britney Spears acting crazy and I don't even know which year it might be, LOL!!

    My goodness, look at all that dough. There's stuff in there I don't even know. But I do admit some do sound a whole lot better than others, geez, this is what lawmakers put in place?? Jeez, and we thought we were corrupt, LOL!! But I don't know, there's one thing I believe is more important than anything else...I don't know about you but we gotta hook up that furniture to the Dep. of Homeland Security, we gotta let em know that they should also feel comfortable with their job, plus, we gotta give em the furniture, we just gotta, LOL!

    February 3, 2009 at 12:32 am |
  14. Chance J Haney Jr

    Their is nothing here that will stimulus job now . this really is a shopping list . it wastfully spending . somebody stop them.

    February 3, 2009 at 12:15 am |
  15. Erik Tracey

    So there are some things here that i can see to be labeled as "wasteful" but it seems like the house Republicans seem to think that we dont need to find alternative fuel sources, or start using fuel efficient vehicles in govt. and military, and apparently its no longer a priority to fund the CDC, since when did the HIV/AIDS epidemic go on the back burner!?!?! , i can comment on all of the things listed here but won't i'm sure you will tell what is good in tis list

    February 2, 2009 at 11:58 pm |
  16. Deena

    Dana,

    Thank you for getting this on the website. Where can I find the Stimulus Package that the Senate is reviewing?

    February 2, 2009 at 11:55 pm |
  17. Hutch Kealy

    When will the media and the White House call this bill what it is?

    It's the Pelosi Pork Package!

    Everyone is rightly identifying the issues with the bill and all the non-stimulative spending but let's at least identify who is responsible for this atrocity – Nancy Pelosi.
    Nancy needs to be held accountable for this terrible effort to mislead the American public. She once again proves herself to be perhaps the most ineffective Speaker in the history of this country.

    The President is in error to pretend or assume he has a non-partisan approach to governing.
    As long as Nancy Pelosi is in a leadership position partisanship will be the rule, as she is perhaps the most acrimonious person "serving" in Congress. (remember her little speech before the TARP vote!)

    So let's moveon.org ...... beyond Nancy

    February 2, 2009 at 11:44 pm |
  18. Annie

    My Favorite:

    $248 million for furniture at the new Dept. of Homeland Security headquarters

    February 2, 2009 at 11:44 pm |
  19. Marilyn FL

    never went to Democrats with Bush's unregulated spending, or proposals. Democrates do not and should pander to Republicans! We voted for change. We don't want business as usual we've had that! If they are right why are we in this mess?! They should have used a microscope on Bush's irresponsible spending they rubber stamped! Throw the bums out that are hurting our country and economy every day they're trying to flex their none exitance power! We do need help for smokers and HIV/AIDS! Let the Republicans know whose in charge and will change the way Washington works! Nip it in the bud now!!!

    February 2, 2009 at 11:35 pm |
  20. Edie

    If the President wants to create jobs, start from the bottom. Build houses, finance houses, sell houses, furnish houses–get those trucks moving bringing in all the goods necessary to make the economy strong. That includes everything from nails to washing machines. Then people are working in all segments of the economy. Everybody wins. Democrats need to work with the Republicans on this idea. Remember, building and selling a house is much faster than building a highway or a bridge.

    February 2, 2009 at 11:23 pm |
  21. EJ (USA)

    I'd like to see what's in the bill that the Republicans proposed.

    February 2, 2009 at 11:16 pm |
  22. Marilyn FL

    For almost a decade Republicans when they were a majority,

    February 2, 2009 at 11:05 pm |
  23. Annie Kate

    Well, these items in the list are indeed worthy causes but I'm afraid I have to agree with the people objecting to them – they don't belong in this bill. They should be in some other bill, but not this one – this stimulus bill should be only about stimulating the economy, creating jobs, and helping the housing problems. The items listed above can wait. Some for forever.

    February 2, 2009 at 10:54 pm |
  24. jack

    RE:Michael Phelps: Let`s not crucifiy this young man, and not be hypocritical. Did we not just elect a president who admitted to doing cocaine( a felony) as a young man? And have a former president who "did not inhale"( marijuana)? Accordingly,(also)let` s not confuse the meaning of "role model."

    February 2, 2009 at 10:49 pm |
  25. Charlie Ifrah

    Michael Phelps is still a role model and more accomplished than 99% of his fellow citizens. He's a just a kid and should be forgiven by all. Let's all move to the real criminal issues of our wonderful CEOs on wall street.

    February 2, 2009 at 10:40 pm |
  26. Gerald Jolly

    Hello Anderson, I spend a minimum of 8 hours watching CNN news everyday.
    I think it is without doubt the very best news program of any network worldwide.I do not include my credentials for any other reason that it is my hope that you will discuss my comments with your panels and colleagues. PHD Political Science.
    Comment: It is my belief that if President Obama does not institute a complete investigation in the illegal activities on Wall St. and bring the culprits to justice he will loose all credibility he has with the American Public. I am a very strong Obama supporter although a Canadian, but I've been around the horn a few years and I warn the Obama Government that unless they take swift and decisive action to bring these scoundrels to justice. HIS JOB WILL BE A DIFFICULT ONE TO RECOVER THE TRUST OF THE AMEDRICAN TAX PAYING PUBLIC.

    February 2, 2009 at 10:34 pm |
  27. Darrell

    Please tell me what is the difference between the Gov of New Hampshire making a deal for his seat to be filled by a republican be any different to what Gov of Illinois did .He talked about making a deal ,they actually did it

    February 2, 2009 at 10:29 pm |