Capitol Hill (CNN) – Nearly a day after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, announced a $789 billion-dollar final economic stimulus deal, congressmen still had not seen a printed bill, or even a written summary of the legislation.
Most lawmakers, staffers and reporters Thursday were depending on just a handful of details given out the day before by Reid, Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana, and two key negotiators, Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine and Senator Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska.
Collins read off some figures from a handwritten and somewhat crumpled sheet of paper.
On the House floor Thursday morning, Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colorado, took on the unenviable task of explaining the uninked compromise bill. As he ran through broad categories such as tax cuts or energy spending, Republican Virginia Foxx, R-North Carolina, pounced.
"You talk about this bill as though you have read the bill," she said. "And I want to ask, has the bill been made available to the Democrats in the chamber?"
"Uh," Perlmutter paused. "I have seen the House version, and I have seen the Senate version, and I have highlights of the compromise." He had not seen a written version.
As staff worked frantically to put the deal in print, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi postponed a news conference planned for 10:45 am ET to 3 pm.
Her office said the move was related to the Lincoln birthday celebration and visit from President Obama set for the Capitol Rotunda at lunchtime.