Americans glimpsed the first details of the Congressional stimulus package last week when the U.S. House of Representatives released an $825 billion draft spending bill titled "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009." According to Democratic leaders, the goal of the bill is to save or create up to four million American jobs. With the Senate currently crafting its own version of the bill, Congress plans to have a complete bill ready for passage by mid-February.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, a Wisconsin Democrat in a significant dairy region, played a central role in developing the bill, which includes $550 billion in new spending combined with $275 billion in tax cuts. The legislation targets public works and infrastructure projects and proposes to increase spending in a myriad of government programs, including new research in science and engineering, energy, education, healthcare and education.
Of particular interest to the dairy industry, the package would include renewable energy loan guarantees, energy-efficiency manufacturing demonstration projects, small business credit and rural business grants and loans, and industrial technology investments. Over $1 billion would be tagged for U.S. ports of entry to improve border security and trade access. Over $7 billion would target community wastewater-treatment systems and watershed infrastructure projects.
In addition, more than $20 billion would be used to expand nutrition programs for the needy, primarily through a 13.6 percent increase in food stamp benefits, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or "SNAP."
The bill also proposes to increase funding by over 30 percent for programs that provide snacks and dinners to needy children and seniors. These programs currently serve more than three million children and adults. The $726 million included in the stimulus bill would allow benefits to expand into states and institutions not currently enrolled in the program. Fluid milk and dairy products are qualifying foods under these programs.
Links to the draft bill, a draft discussion of the bill and a summary of the bill are listed below. Members with questions may contact Ruth Saunders, IDFA senior director of policy and legislative affairs, at 202-220-3553 or firstname.lastname@example.org.