Senate votes to cut green building cash

The US Senate has voted to pass an $830bn bill to boost the economy and create millions of jobs - but has trimmed planned investment in green building.

The Senate version of the bill, which was passed on Tuesday with the support of all the Democrats in the Senate but just three members of the Republican party, has a number of differences to the version agreed by the House of Representatives last month.

Education and energy are among the areas where there are major differences between the two bills.

The Senate bill has eliminated $19bn for green school construction which had been part of the House version of the bill. Another spending package for green buildings has also been trimmed from $6bn to $4.5bn.

The US Green Building Council had backed the green building measures in President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus bill.

Last month, president and CEO Rick Fedrizzi said: “The green building-related initiatives laid out in President Obama’s economic recovery package will help put thousands of Americans back to work in the immediate term, creating as many as two million green jobs in the next five years.”

However, the Senate version of the bill has also given a boost to other green areas, raising proposed spending on renewable energy projects and fuel efficiency from $28bn to about $40bn.

The Senate and the House will now have to begin negotiations this week in a bid to resolve the differences – a process which President Obama hopes will be finished in time for him to sign a final version of the bill by February 16.

On Monday, President Obama said: “I want to thank the members of Congress who’ve worked so hard to move this plan forward.

“But I also want to urge all members of Congress to act without delay in the coming week to resolve their differences and pass this plan.”

Kate Martin

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