Sen. Patty Murray in on Leadership Talks to Cut $80 Billion from Stimulus Plan

By Chris Kissel February 6, 2009


Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) is part of the group of 16 senators that met late yesterday and all day today to devise nearly $80 billion worth of spending cuts to the Senate's $900 billion version of the stimulus plan, Murray's office says.

Cuts on the order of $60 billion to construction of new schools and $3 to $4 billion cuts to proposed public transit funding are also being proposed. A few of Murray's priorities, like transportation funding (mostly for roads) and early-childhood education, have been on and off the chopping block all day. As we reported earlier this week, Murray tried and failed to add $18 billion in highway (and some transit) money into the stimulus package.

The bi-partisan group is led by head centrist Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). They've been deliberating since last night on funding cuts designed to cull favor from Republicans anxious over the bill's current price tag.

The latest public version of the plan to trim the package includes completely cutting proposed funding for Head Start and special education programs from the plan. Separate from the stim package debate, Sen. Murray is currently sponsoring a bill in the Senate that pushes for an increase in early-childhood education programs.

While Head Start may be getting cut from the stimulus, the current plan reportedly increases funding for transportation projects. There's no information to indicate whether or not that was a result of Murray's efforts.

Likewise, it is still unclear which provisions Murray is pushing for in the group's plan—Murray's office was bustling Friday afternoon as the Senator debated the cuts with her colleagues, and her press team could offer few details.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and President Obama are continuing to pressure the Senate to pass the bill before the end of the day. With all of the back-and-forth on contentious cuts like these, however, it looks the vote could come as late as this weekend.

UPDATE: Here's the report from the NYT late Friday night after a deal was reached in DC. And considering what Sen. Lisa Brown told us on Wednesday about looking to the federal stimulus package for help, here's one detail that jumps out:
The biggest cut, roughly $40 billion in aid to states , was likely to spark a fierce fight during negotiations with the House over the final bill. Many states, hit hard by the recession, face wrenching cuts in services and layoffs of public employees as they struggle to comply with laws requiring them to balance their budgets.

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