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Behind closed doors: Conferees re-lard-up the porkulus

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By Michelle Malkin  •  February 10, 2009 10:41 PM


A chicken inside a duck inside a turkey, all wrapped in bacon.

So, now what? The House and Senate have each passed their bloated stimulus packages. Who’s in the Capitol Hill backroom piling old and new chunks of bacon onto the legislative Turbaconducken?

On the Senate side, Democrats Baucus, Inouye, and Reid and Republicans Cochran and Grassley are the conferees. On the House side, it’s Obey (his pork-lobbying son is thrilled, I’m sure), Rangel, and Waxman and Republicans Camp and Lewis.

Here’s just a taste of the new special-interest goodies about to be crammed into the final bill:

General Motors Corp. may win protection from a tax liability of as much as $7 billion when Senate stimulus legislation moves to a conference committee, Senator Carl Levin said.

“There’s some strong feeling that it ought to be included in the conference report,” Levin, a Michigan Democrat, said of the protection in comments to reporters today. “There’s strong support for it.”

The $838 billion stimulus measure the Senate approved today doesn’t include the tax provision for GM, nor does the House version. A “technical change” that won’t increase the cost of the legislation could be added in the House-Senate conference committee before the proposal is voted on again in both chambers, Levin said.

Oh, and transparency, schmansparency:

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) this morning predicted that the House-Senate conference on the economic stimulus package could stretch well into next week, though he pledged that negotiations would begin almost immediately this afternoon after the Senate passes its version of the bill.

Hoyer said the two chambers would take “such time as we need” to get the bill right, suggesting the process could go on at least until Thursday of next week, when Congress is nominally supposed to be off for the Presidents’ Day recess.

He said the House would appoint its conferees this afternoon. As for the transparency of those proceedings, Hoyer said they would likely be open to the public but, as is usually the case with major legislation, much of the real negotiating will take place during pre-conference discussions.

“I don’t have any reason to believe the conference won’t be open,” Hoyer said. “I do have reason to believe that given the time frame available to us, once the Senate passes the bill I’m sure there will be a lot of discussions very quickly.

Senatus explains what’s next:

[O]nce the conference report is worked out, members of both bodies will have to take a final vote before the bill is sent to President Obama. In the Senate, that vote will almost certainly be subject to a sixty-vote threshold. Without the support of two Republicans, the package fails. If Ben Nelson dropped out, which seems unlikely at this point despite his comments, all three Republican votes would be needed to pass it.

Time to hammer the Turncoat Caucus as the conferees preside over the inevitable lard-up.

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