The formal negotiations on the $825-billion economic stimulus start now.

Two Senate committees on Jan. 27 are scheduled to begin discussing, and probably amending, portions of their versions of the package. The Senate Appropriations Committee is to take up a $365-billion discretionary-spending section, drafted by the panel's new Chairman, Daniel Inouye (Hawaii). The Finance Committee will take up a proposed $275 billion in tax cuts and about $180 billion in funding, including aid to states, the unemployed and those on food stamps.

Both committees are slated to begin their "markup" sessions at 10:30 a.m.

At $825 billion, the Senate committees' combined proposals are the same size as the stimulus bill that is headed for a House floor vote soon, perhaps as early as Jan. 28. In addition, both the Senate and House proposals include $550 billion in total federal spending and $275 billion in tax incentives.

The Senate panels released outlines of their respective parts of the package on Jan. 21.

The Senate and House packages also cover basically the same broad categories of spending, with large sums for infrastructure, energy, education, aid to states and aid to individuals hurt most by the recession.

The Senate Appropriations Committee says its bill includes about $140 billion for infrastructure. The committee also says its energy spending totals another $51 billion, some of which would be for construction-related work, including $6 billion for energy-efficiency upgrades at federal buildings under the aegis of the General Services Administration. Construction-industry group estimates the Senate proposal's infrastructure total at $150 billion to $160 billion.

By ENR's estimate, the House bill has nearly $160 billion in construction-related spending.

But Senate Appropriations didn't provide enough details of its proposal to allow ENR to compare with confidence the amounts the Senate and House bills would provide for individual programs, such as highways and wastewater-treatment facilities.