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Democrats plan second economic stimulus bill

/ Source: The Associated Press

Democrats controlling Congress ratcheted up expectations Tuesday for additional legislation to jump-start the dragging economy.

"We will be proceeding with another stimulus package," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said after meeting with several economists.

Pelosi said that recently issued tax rebate payments of $600 to individuals and $1,200 for married couples have helped the economy but that more is necessary to offset the drag of higher gasoline prices and other costs.

But President Bush cautioned in a White House press conference that lawmakers should "wait for the stimulus package to fully kick in" before passing another.

The Democratic effort is still in its formative stages, but most of the proposals mentioned by Democrats were rejected by Bush during negotiations that produced the earlier stimulus measure. A new package probably won't be acted on before Congress returns in September from its annual summer vacation.

New legislation could include: additional tax rebates, heating and air conditioning subsidies for the poor, infrastructure projects, higher food stamp payments and aid to the states.

Pelosi told reporters that she "would hope that (tax rebates) would be part of any package" but that some of the Democratic elements need to be attached.

For his part, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., sounded less than enthusiastic about another round of tax rebates.

"The first thing we need to look at before we look at tax rebates is, what can we do to stimulate the economy?" Reid said. "And that's infrastructure development. That's bridges, highways, dams, and to put massive amounts of money into an infrastructure for renewable energy."

The discussion over a new economic stimulus bill comes as Congress is working to complete a broad housing rescue package to give new mortgages to hundreds of thousands of homeowners facing foreclosure.

And a voter revolt over record gas prices has generated heated debate about further opening up the Outer Continental Shelf to oil exploration. Bush called for Congress to focus first on housing and energy legislation before turning to a new economic stimulus bill.

"Let's see how this stimulus package works and let us deal with the housing market with a good piece of housing legislation, and the energy issue with good energy legislation, and the trade issue with good trade legislation," Bush said.