January 30th, 2009
05:45 PM ET
11 months ago

Centrist senators seek stimulus compromise

 Nelson and Collins are seeking a compromise version of the stimulus bill.
Nelson and Collins are seeking a compromise version of the stimulus bill.

(CNN) - President Obama’s hopes of passing a massive economic stimulus bill next week in the Senate could hinge on the efforts of a bipartisan pair of centrist senators.

Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, oppose the proposal in its current form and want to slash what they say is wasteful spending from the bill so moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats can vote for it.

“I want to see the president succeed,” Nelson told CNN. “But in this situation I want to make sure the actual package delivers the bang for the buck that we’re hoping it will.”

Related: Senate bracing for a 'hard slog' on stimulus bill

The two senators, known as consensus builders, will spend the weekend scrubbing the nearly $900 billion bill for spending that does not narrowly target job and economic growth.

“I want to draft a whole new approach and I’m guided by the credo: will it help turn the economy around? Will it create jobs?” Collins said.

The senators complain the bill is bogged down with spending for programs that may be worthwhile but that won’t boost the economy in the short term. As examples, Nelson pointed to $1.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health to do comparative health studies and Collins pointed to funding for pandemic flu preparedness and cyber security.

Senate Democratic leaders say they are confident they can get the 60 votes needed to pass the stimulus bill, but acknowledge it can’t be done unless they hold skeptical Democrats and attract some Republicans.

Because there are a handful of senators on each side of the aisle who are believed to be up for grabs, Nelson and Collins think their effort could determine the outcome.

“I want to go through and sort out and scrub it to see those things that are only marginally job creation or job preservation at best and not include those in this bill,” Nelson said. ‘Maybe we can get more bipartisan support if we do something of that sort.”


Filed under: Senate
soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. Craig H Easton, PA

    I think this is a pretty good approach, although I think, as long as we're going into debt to spend this money, that it should be spent investing in things that will better prepare us to compete for decades. That's a lot fairer to the current children and yet to be born who will be paying for it; that they get a benefit. So let's do things like put a lot of computer techs to work computerizing medical records so we can slow the cost increases hammering our businesses. Let's build the power grids and rural broadband so we're not 21st or whatever in the world; so Americans can compete with India and China and the EU. And if we're going to add tax cuts for business, focus like a laser on start-ups and small tech businesses that are going to be tomorrow's good job producers.

    January 30, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  2. A.W Walker

    Steele? well it looks like the Republican Party has pulled another rabbit out of their hats! they have finally come up with a plan...or is it a plot? another Historical moment yeah right!.. is Steele stupid or did he just get lucky!...? How much is he being paid for this great humor...
    no one in this day and time wants to be labeled in a Bipartisanship effort on either side of the Political Spectrum so....let us nominate Steele or should we say STEAL?? to represent ...that way when we all disagree...things won't look so bad!...

    A. W
    California

    January 30, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  3. Rob Stumpf

    Obama is proposing a bill that will spend hundreds of billions of dollars on pork. Yeah, that's something new in our history. That's change, all right!

    Sod in the national mall? Are they serious?

    January 30, 2009 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  4. A.W Walker

    Andre...you are so right...this is as bad as blk on blk crime in America
    and Steele is a set up and to stupid to see it! well if America is for the President lets pray that all thinngs will work together for the good...

    January 30, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  5. Amy Pa

    Nelson and Collins are seeking a compromise version of the stimulus bill........I don't understand when President Obama had the bipartison meeting why didn't you Guys make a compromise instead of Grand standing in the Media....I don't recall giving Bush and Paulson a hard time by the way where is Paulson

    January 30, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  6. Gracie, MD

    You know what? What a CROCK of CRAP!!!!!

    WHERE was all these OBJECTIONS from the Republican leadership when THEY were spending BILLIONS and BILLIONS of dollars on all THEIR favorite pork barrels, self-vested political lobby deals, RICH
    WALL STREET buddies and thousands of BRIDGES TO NO WHERE?

    Did any of you hear any Republican objecting 8 years ago?

    It's very ironic how the TIDE has shifted and NOW the Republicans don't like being the "Conservative MINORITY party" Funny that?

    If I recall correctly, these same Republicans, along with their incompetent President Bush, didn't give a HOOT about how much wasteful spending they did the past 8 years!! They ALL thought they were above the LAW, especially their Head Chief, George W. Bush!!!!

    We had 8 years of blatant spending run amuck and NOW they want to critique the President's stimulus plan.

    I'm sorry, WHO are you Republicans again? And WHY would anyone with a brain believe ONE word coming out of any Republicans mouths? Hello.

    I'm so FED UP with this horse sh_t coming from these GOP Whiners!! I think President Obama has been more than FAIR in his attempts to include them, but ALL these fools seem intent on doing is doing what they always do, and that is COMPLAIN, COMPLAIN, COMPLAIN, COMPLAIN WITHOUT EVER ACCOMPLISHING ANYTHING!!!!

    The Republican leadership in Washington need to get their heads out of their butts and START rolling up their sleeves and help shovel all this economic DUMP they created. I'm sick of the finger pointing!!

    January 30, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  7. God Bless the U.S.A

    why do the republicans want our president to fail, they are a disgrace to America, shame on all of them, it's time to do away with the republican party.

    January 30, 2009 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  8. MJ

    Andre I feel the love for a black man but not in this era of a first black President. They only did this to bring more blacks to the GOP and drill down the Democrats. I hope every Democrat stay where they are and not be bully or persuaded to cross the line of corruption.

    January 30, 2009 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  9. panterazero

    gt said:

    AMERICA FIRST PARTY SECOND …PLEASE

    after eight years of Bush, for whom it was rich cronies first, party second, and America third if at all? Good luck! For the foreseeable future, Democrat = Democracy; and if you don't believe me, ask Mitch McConnell, because that's exactly what's keeping him awake at night.

    January 30, 2009 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  10. deaf ears

    Limbaugh is obviously the President of the rebublicant’s club of “money makers and bananas shakers’
    My concern is that his listeners are exposed to a very damaging ‘idiotic syndrome with moronic aggravation’. This results in a persistent mental constipation.
    Recent example is the former Bush Administration!

    January 30, 2009 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  11. Carl R

    Republicans you can think of something besides tax cuts, honest. Just please note, from me, a tax cut won't work and does not help, if you do not have a job. Rush makes big money he heeds those Republican TAX CUTS. I will not have a job. Corporations, will NOT HIRE based on tax cuts. Compromise away, but only a few tax cuts, as Mr. Warren Buffet said, he pays less in taxes than his secretary. Isn't he rich? So, please give me a break guys, think of something new.

    No job in July, looking forward to it – maybe. I can grow food!

    January 30, 2009 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  12. Rick Sutter

    So, Andre. If the best choice is a black man, we should choose a less qualified guy because it might look bad to liberals?! "Known to dislike the President?" Get real. Nobody dislikes the President; conservatives dislike his socialist agenda.

    January 30, 2009 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  13. Sue

    These two have the right idea, and imagine, one is a Dem and one a Rep. and they are working together! There must be a bit more maturity in the Senate.
    A lot of the projects in the bill will create jobs, and since no one has a crystal ball, who is to say that a construction job lasting a few months is better than a job in health care that could be a career job? Or that building roads in Michigan is better than putting money into education for our children? There are many choices. What I am sure of is that tax cuts create NO JOBS, or Bush's huge cuts would not have resulted in the most job losses in 50 years. Seems his cronies pocketed their savings offshore and didn't put one cent into American job creation. Since it didn't buy any Republican votes anyway, take them all out!

    January 30, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  14. unemployed-fl

    please just signed it then go back to politics as usual, we need to get going on this fast before 20, 000 more jobs are lost by monday morning.

    January 30, 2009 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
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