By Lori Montgomery
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said yesterday that she may call lawmakers back to Washington after the Nov. 4 elections to put together a new federal spending package worth as much as $150 billion in hopes of stimulating the nation's flagging economy.
'We have some very harsh decisions to make and some of them can't wait until January,' Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters at a health clinic in Denver. 'We may have to go back into session before the next Congress.'
A stimulus package of that size would be far larger than anything lawmakers have considered since February, when they worked with the Bush administration on a $168 billion package that included tax rebates for millions of Americans.
Last month, the House approved $60 billion in new federal spending on infrastructure, food stamps, extended unemployment benefits and aid to state governments struggling to avoid cuts in Medicaid coverage. The new package could include a second round of tax rebates in addition to those provisions, according to a senior Democratic aide.
The House bill was blocked in the Senate, which could take it up when it returns to Washington on Nov. 17. The White House has opposed additional stimulus spending; a spokesman yesterday declined to comment on Pelosi's latest proposal, saying 'it's a long time' until mid-November.