The House could take up a potential second economic stimulus package by Thursday or Friday, a senior House Democratic aide told Politico Monday afternoon.
The aide said House leaders would meet Monday night to plot the course for the roughly $50 billion package, which is expected to be the next order of business after the House finishes work on a comprehensive energy package currently under consideration.
However, the aide said the timing of the bill could depend on how quickly the Texas delegation can return to Washington after dealing with the devastation caused by Hurricane Ike.
In a series of statements throughout the day, Democratic lawmakers in both the House and Senate have outlined the contours of the second economic stimulus package, which is likely to include a hefty increase in infrastructure spending, relief to states facing increased Medicare costs, an extension of unemployment benefits and other initiatives.
The package is expected to face stiff resistance for House Republicans. On Monday afternoon, House Minority Leader John Boehner said the “tax and spend” policies of congressional Democrats were responsible for the latest turmoil on Wall Street.
In addition, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino quickly threw some cold water on the Democrats' hopes that President Bush would actually sign a second stimulus if Congress could get a bill to his desk.
Perino offered a roundabout dismissal of the Democrats plan in her daily briefing with reporters.
"What we want is a stimulus bill that would actually be stimulus, and that doesn't necessarily mean it has to come in the form of a stimulus two package," Perino said. "It could come in the form of energy legislation, and that's what we will be focusing on. And thankfully, the House is going to take it up this week. However, it's just not in the format that we would like to see."
Perino said she didn't "think there are many" aspects of the Democrats' plan that would actually stimulate the economy.