WASHINGTON — Democratic lawmakers said Sunday that Congress should pass a second economic aid plan that would focus on helping homeowners avoid foreclosure and increasing spending on bridges, roads and transit systems.
“Our economy will never grow in the 21st century unless we expand and repair the deteriorating infrastructure needs of our country,” said Sen. Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.
Dodd, D-Conn., also said Congress needs to help homeowners in distress. He has called for lenders to offer new, more affordable mortgages in exchange for greater financial backing by the Federal House Administration, which pays a claim to the lender in the event of a homeowner’s default.
“The heart of this economic problem is the foreclosure problem,” Dodd said.
The second-ranking Democratic senator, Dick Durbin of Illinois, said he wants to extend unemployment benefits.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, did not rule out a second aid plan, but said he is worried about the potential costs.
“Everything I hear coming from my friends on the other side of the aisle is, ‘Let’s have the federal government spend more money,’ ” Cornyn said. “And that money comes from your pocket and mine. And I think we ought to be careful.
President Bush has argued against additional relief plans at this time.
It is too early to gauge the economic effect of the $168 billion measure passed by Congress and signed by Bush in January. Rebate checks of up to $1,200 per couple and even more for families with dependent children will start arriving in mailboxes in May.
The lawmakers appeared on CNN.