Senate stimulus bill to cost $838 billion

Measure is $47 billion less than original Senate bill, but still nearly $20 billion more than House version, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates.

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By Jeanne Sahadi, senior writer

NEW YORK ( -- The amended economic recovery bill that the Senate is expected to pass on Tuesday would increase the deficit by $838 billion over 10 years, the Congressional Budget Office estimated on Monday.

That is less than the $885 billion the CBO estimated the original Senate bill would cost last week. But it's still larger than the roughly $820 billion stimulus bill passed by the House two weeks ago.

Republicans and some Democrats criticized the size of the original Senate package.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., led a small, bipartisan group of senators last week to reduce the price tag by roughly $100 billion.

The Senate version, which passed a key procedural hurdle on Monday, includes those cuts from Collins and Nelson. It also includes other Senate amendments, including two totaling $46 billion in lost revenue over 10 years.

Specifically, the Senate added in a $35 billion provision that doubles the size of an existing temporary homebuyer credit to $15,000. It also would allow all homebuyers to claim the credit and remove the requirement under current law that the credit be paid back.

The bill also includes a new $11 billion temporary tax break that would allow taxpayers who buy a car this year to deduct the sales tax on the purchase as well as the interest they pay on their car loan.

Neither of those provisions exists in the House bill, nor does a $70 billion measure that would protect middle- and upper-middle-income families from having to pay the Alternative Minimum Tax for one year. The AMT was intended primarily for high-income taxpayers but has in recent years threatened to engulf those lower down the income scale.

All told, tax provisions in the bill now account for 35% of the total package. Republicans have said they would like the tax cut portion to be at least 40%, which was the portion that President Obama had included in his broad outline for a stimulus package that was estimated to cost $775 billion.

If the Senate passes the bill on Tuesday, Senate negotiators will later in the week with House members to reconcile the differences between their bills.

Making changes during those negotiations that increase the cost of the bill could jeopardize final passage in the Senate. That's because Senate Democrats need the support of a handful of Republicans and they need to keep the votes of conservative Democrats.

On Monday, spokesmen for the two senators who led the bipartisan cost-cutting negotiations indicated that their votes could not be guaranteed if the bill grows more expensive in the House-Senate negotiations.

"Senator Collins has made it clear that she hopes the conference committee reduces the total cost of the bill. She has yet to hear a compelling case for the cost of the final bill to be above $800 billion," a Collins spokesman told

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Nelson said the senator "would find it difficult to vote for a final bill that was largely different from the Nelson-Collins compromise. This would include a bill that costs much more than the Nelson-Collins bill."  To top of page

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