STD Money, Recovery.gov, The Patriot Act: HuffPost Readers Dig Through The Stimulus
More money to battle STDs. Recovery.gov stripped out. A nod to the Patriot Act. Huffington Post readers have taken a preliminary look at the Senate stimulus package and sent in what they found.
As the Senate debates the bill, we'll continue to go over it. Click here to access the complete bills and sign up to receive instructions on how we'll divide the work of going over this 736-page proposal.
Already, two readers have noticed that the Senate version includes more money for screening and prevention of STDs -- $65 million more, to be exact.
The House bill gives the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention $335,000,000 to the CDC "to carry out domestic HIV/ AIDS, viral hepatitis, sexually-transmitted diseases, and tuberculosis prevention programs."
The Senate version ups that to $400 million and removes the TB reference, directing the money simply to "sexually-transmitted diseases, including HIV." (Now all that money will apparently be removed as a gesture of comity to the GOP.)
Readers noticed a change to the transparency section, too, but it's not as significant as it initially looked to be.
President Obama promised to set a new standard for openness and public disclosure of contracts and spending in the stimulus package now before Congress. The House responded by writing into the law a provision that would require all contracts to be posted to a website -- Recovery.gov.
The post was required to include the amount of investment, a description of the project, the purpose, the rationale, and whom to contact at the relevant agency if there are problems or questions. Obama and House leaders repeatedly hailed the disclosure requirement as meeting the high standard set by Obama during the presidential campaign.
The Senate stripped out any reference to Recovery.gov, and in this ctl+F world, that immediately struck one reader as a major omission. However, a Senate Democratic aide said that the web address was stricken on the advice of legislative counsel, who advised that specifying a specific url wasn't appropriate in a piece of legislation. Instead, the Senate bill directs the creation of "a website."
Still, there are noticeable differences between the proposed House and Senate websites. The House version puts forward specific requirements that must be disclosed. The Senate version is more subjective, requiring the site to be "user-friendly," for instance, and include "data on relevant economic, financial, grant, and contract information."
"The website shall provide detailed data on contracts awarded by the Government that expend covered funds, including information about the competitiveness of the contracting process, notification of solicitations for contracts to be awarded, and information about the process that was used for the award of contracts," reads the Senate version.
The USA Patriot Act makes a cameo in the Senate version, too, one reader noticed, in a section kicking down half a billion dollars "for construction to upgrade or modify critical infrastructure, as defined in section 1016(e) of the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 (42 U.S.C. 5195c(e))."
"Critical infrastructure" includes everything from the foundational elements of cyberspace to ports, major tunnels, or anything else, "whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters," according to the definition in the text of the Patriot Act.
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