In a sign of how such legislation allows lawmakers to advance many other goals, the Senate bill also includes tax provisions to encourage alternative energy production at a cost of roughly $6 billion over 10 years.
That provision was sponsored by Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington, and Senator John Ensign, Republican of Nevada. A similar measure was dropped from a major energy bill last year and again from the economic stimulus bill in February.
But without quick action to extend expiring tax incentives, Ms. Cantwell said, many companies would simply drop projects. The housing bill was the easiest and fastest way to get things moving.
Other industries facing financial difficulties, like retailers, may realize that the tax provisions in the bill offer help for them, too.
Over the next few weeks, industry groups that fought to secure tax provisions in the Senate bill are expected to argue that providing help for important industries offers the best chance of helping to reverse the economic downturn.
To press their case on Capitol Hill, 15 of the biggest residential construction companies, including KB Homes and Toll Brothers , formed a coalition and hired a lobbying firm, the C2 Group, apart from the larger National Association of Home Builders.
Tom Crawford, a founder of the C2 Group, met with staff members of the Senate Finance Committee, several of whose members had already begun expressing concern about the effect of the slowing economy on home builders and other businesses.
The home builders were hardly the only industry that lawmakers heard from as the Senate housing legislation took shape and it became clear that the bill would provide more in the way of tax breaks aimed at stimulating the economy than direct assistance for distressed homeowners.
The cause of the automobile manufacturers was taken up by Senator George Voinovich, Republican of Ohio, and Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan, who pushed to allow them access to up to $40 million each in alternative minimum tax credits.
Automakers and other companies that have lost money in recent years have accumulated billions of dollars in such credits, which are based on cumulative payments of the corporate alternative minimum tax. Companies, however, can claim a refund of such credits only in years when they pay regular corporate income taxes in amounts that exceed what they would owe under the alternative tax method.
The provision benefiting home builders and other struggling businesses would allow operating losses to be carried back over four years rather than the two years in current law. It is a strategy that Congress has used as a way of stimulating the economy in previous recessions, most recently in 2002 with the support of the Bush administration.
But the White House opposed the idea when members of Congress proposed it as part of the economic stimulus package earlier this year. And some House Democrats suggest that home builders and their lobbyists will face an uphill battle in trying to keep the provision when the Senate bill is reconciled with a rival tax package that was approved last week by the House Ways and Means Committee.
These Democrats said that the Ways and Means chairman, Representative Charles B. Rangel, Democrat of New York, and other leaders, including Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, would oppose the provision as benefiting builders at a time when Congress should be helping homeowners.
“This ship largely sailed when Congressional Republicans left it out of the stimulus package,” said one House Democratic aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to interfere with negotiations.
Unlike the Senate bill, which includes a tax credit of up to $7,500 for purchasers of foreclosed properties, Mr. Rangel’s bill provides a credit for all first-time home buyers — a move that drew strong support from the National Association of Realtors.
“This is a meaningful incentive that should draw into the market many purchasers who, to date, have remained on the sidelines,” the president of the group, Richard F. Gaylord, wrote. “We believe this credit can convert ‘lookers’ into first-time home buyers.”
Other industry groups were also eager to sign on as supporters of Mr. Rangel’s bill, even as many of them hope to push him to endorse a more expansive menu of tax breaks that will benefit them.
Among them were the National Association of Home Builders, the Mortgage Bankers Association, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, the Council of Federal Home Loan Banks and the American Hospital Association.