WASHINGTON - The Senate on Thursday approved a $26.1 billion state aid bill to save teachers' jobs and extend health care for low-income people, but liberal House Democrats may have to swallow hard before accepting some of the offsetting cuts in social programs dear to their hearts.
And some more conservative Democrats are expressing concern about more federal spending even though the bill is fully paid for with offsets because Republicans are making the rising federal deficit a major issue in the fall congressional elections.
Given the potential popular appeal of avoiding teacher layoffs on the eve of a new school year – and the anguished pleas for help from recession-battered states – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., says she is confident the bill will be approved in her chamber when members return from their August recess Tuesday.
One main offset approved by the Senate to avoid adding to the deficit is an earlier-than-expected phasing out of an enhanced food stamp program that poorer households have been receiving under the 2009 stimulus program. The extra $80 in monthly aid would end in 2014.