By EMMA BROWN
The word this week in Washington’s was stimulus. Obama is hoping that spending $800+ billion will automatically defibrillate the failing heart of the U.S. economy, and the rest of us (save Rush Limbaugh) are hoping he’s right.
San Francisco may have a better chance than other cities to get a piece of the windfall, since homegirls Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein (as Speaker of the House and Senate Appropriations committee member, respectively) have more-than-average say about how the stimulus package ends up.
Pelosi’s House passed an $819 billion version of the stimulus package with nary a vote from the Republicans. Word is that DiFi is helping push for even more dinero for transportation and infrastructure. On Wednesday, Feinstein’s Appropriations committee passed its version of the bill: $27 billion for highways, $850,000 for Amtrak, $2 billion for high-speed rail and $8.4 billion for other public transit grants. Goodness knows BART and MUNI could use a shot in the arm.
Next week the full Senate will debate the stimulus package, then members of House and Senate will duke it out over their differences. Meanwhile, the burning question in every community across the country: Is it good for my neighborhood? Mission Loc@l is working on finding out more about what it will mean for our corner of San Francisco, but already, it’s clear that our women in Washington want significant aid for public housing, community health centers and education. S.F. schools stand to get around $42 million in the next two years, helping offset (at least a leeeetle bit) the effects of state and local budget crunches.
Meanwhile, Thursday’s news that California is entering its worst drought ever reminds us that Dianne, like Guv Arnold and unlike most environmentalists and Democrats, is all for building new dams. That could explain the $1.4 billion reserved in the Senate’s version of the stimulus bill for Western water projects—almost three times the amount in the House’s version.
In other news, DiFi not only missed the fashion moment of the century when she chose not to wear a hat to Obama’s inaugural ceremony—she also disappointed local hatmaker Peg Purcell.
And though Feinstein praised Obama’s executive order closing the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, she refused this week to offer up the Bay Area’s most famous prison to house detainees.
Date: Jan. 29
At issue: Should health insurance for poor children be expanded to cover approximately 4 million kids who would otherwise not have insurance, and 2.5 million kids whose parents otherwise would be buying private insurance? The so-called SCHIP expansion would cost $31.5 billion over the next almost-five years and would be paid for by increasing the federal cigarette tax by 61 cents a pack.
Senate’s vote: 66-32.
Now: The bill’s already been passed by the House. Look for Obama to sign it soon.
Date: Jan. 26
At issue: Should Timothy Geithner, who failed to pay correct income taxes between 2001 and 2004, be the next Treasury Secretary—a job that includes overseeing the IRS?
Senate’s vote: 60-34 in favor.
Date: Jan. 27
At issue: Should Daniel Tarullo join the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve for a 14-year term?
Senate’s vote: 96-1.
Date: Jan. 28
At issue: Should Dianne’s Intelligence Committee approve the nomination of Admiral Dennis Blair for Director of National Intelligence?
Committee’s vote: Unanimous.
Now: Blair’s nomination goes to the full Senate for a vote.
Date: Jan. 28
At issue: Should the Judiciary Committee approve the nomination of Eric Holder for Secretary of Justice?
Committee’s vote: 17-2 in favor.
Now: Holder’s nomination goes to the full Senate for a vote.