WASHINGTON (CNN) – House Democratic leaders are putting together a second economic stimulus package costing as much as $150 billion and are likely to call Congress back shortly after the election to vote on the measure, according to several Democratic leadership aides.
The details are still in flux, but one aide said the price tag would be "somewhat north of $100 billion" and would include "a heavy emphasis on help to state and local governments." One way to help states would be to fund the mandatory state match for Medicaid programs so that states would not have to slash education and other programs to cover it.
Before Congress recessed last week for the election, the House of Representatives passed economic aid measures totaling $61 billion to fund infrastructure projects, money for states' Medicaid costs, and unemployment assistance. But these bills failed to attract enough support in the Senate and the White House opposed them.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, traveling in Denver, Colorado, on Wednesday, said, "With all that happened in the past few weeks, it probably has to be more like a $150 billion to invest in our economy, to create jobs, to help the states, to help men and women across the country."
Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders are scheduled to meet with a group of economists on Monday in Washington to discuss the size and the components of a stimulus plan, the Democratic aides said. These aides indicated that in addition to aid to states struggling with their own budgets, the package could include things similar to what the House passed before, such as infrastructure money, an extension of unemployment benefits, food stamps, and more money for low-income energy assistance.
House Republican leadership aides said that GOP members have not been consulted on the details of a second stimulus. One of these aides said, "We're not necessarily opposed to it out of hand. We would ask, is it truly stimulative? Is it really going to help stimulate the economy?"
A Senate Republican leadership aide said Republicans are skeptical of a second stimulus but did not suggest there is outright opposition to another package.
Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, left the door open to the Senate taking up a bill.
"Senator Reid tried to pass a second economic recovery bill last month, only to be obstructed by Senate Republicans," Manley said. "Recent developments only reinforce the need for additional action to reinvigorate the economy. We will work with the House of Representatives and leave all options open to address this issue."