Wednesday, August 04, 2010

$26 Billion for States Passes Key Test Vote

A measure to send federal aid to cash-strapped states passed a key vote in the Senate, putting it one step closer to becoming law. However, if a final vote is not made by the end of the week, the bill will have wait until the end of the month because the Senate has an August recess scheduled to begin next week.

The measure, which passed by a 61-38 vote, contains $16.1 billion in additional Medicaid money and $10 billion in education funding to prevent teacher layoffs.

State officials have been desperately lobbying their representatives, saying they need the money to shore up their budgets. President Obama weighed in Monday, asking lawmakers to pass the bill.

Senate Democrats needed to garner at least 60 votes for the measure to pass this initial vote, meaning some Republicans had to cross the aisle. That help came in the form of Maine Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.

A final vote could come late in the week, just before the Senate is scheduled to recess for the long August break. The measure would then have to go back to the House, which has already recessed. So it might not get to President Obama's desk until September.

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