Congress laid the foundation for President-elect Barack Obama's economic recovery plan on Thursday with remarkable speed, clearing the way for a new infusion of bailout cash for the financial industry while majority Democrats proposed spending increases and tax cuts totaling a whopping $825 billion.
Two days after Obama personally lobbied for release of $350 billion in bailout funds, the Senate narrowly turned aside a bid to block the money.
Across the Capitol, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. said, "Immediate job creation and then continuing job creation" were the twin goals of the separate stimulus legislation. It recommends tax cuts for businesses and individuals while pouring money into areas such as health care, education, energy and highway construction.
She and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., have pledged to have the economic stimulus bill ready for Obama's signature by mid-February.
Both houses debated Obama's call to release another $350 billion from the financial bailout package, but the vote that mattered most was in the Senate. Despite bipartisan anger over the Bush administration's handling of the program to date, Democratic allies of the incoming president prevailed on a vote of 52-42 that will permit the release of funds within days of Obama's inauguration.
Now, all eyes will be looked on Obama for transparency and accountability to where this money is going, how it will be used and who or whom will get the funds.