Thursday, January 29, 2009

House Democrats Pass Economic Stimulus Bill

Jan 28: House Democrats passed their version of an $819 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R. 1) by a vote of 244 to 188 (all Republicans & 11 Democrats voted against the bill) [See WIMS 1/15/09]. The debate over the bill between Democrats and Republicans repeated the intense partisan differences common in the 110th Congress. The House version is definitely a Democratic bill and a substitute amendment by Republicans was rejected. Observers are predicting more compromise between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate; however, there are still substantial differences in philosophical approaches to the stimulus. Many are saying the bill is short on infrastructure funding, particularly in light of the ASCE report calling for $2.2 trillion in needed investment over a five year period [See WIMS 1/28/09].

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement following the House vote saying, “Today’s vote is a victory for the American people. As the President urged us to do in his Inaugural Address just eight days ago, the House is taking action, ‘bold and swift,’ by passing a bill to create and save 3 to 4 million jobs. This is a bill about the future and about how we create jobs for today’s workers and for the next generation. It provides tax cuts for 95 percent of Americans, invests in science and innovation, in energy, in health care, in education -- all with strict accountability and fiscal responsibility. I look forward to swift Senate passage and for President Obama to sign the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law before the Presidents’ Day recess."

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) issued a statement on the House floor opposing what he called, "Democrats’ $1 trillion 'stimulus' package" and supporting the Republican proposal crafted by House Ways & Means Committee ranking member Dave Camp (R-MI) and Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA). Republicans said their bill would provide "fast-acting tax relief that will create jobs in America -- a plan that would create 6.2 million new jobs by the end of 2010." Boehner said, “The bill that we have on the floor, the underlying bill, has as an example 32 new, brand new, government programs that spend $136 billion. Now, we all know how long it takes to get a new program up, the bureaucracy that has to be hired before we can ever get that money out into the economy."

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), issued a statement saying, “The economic recovery package funds vital programs to improve the efficiency of our homes, buildings and federal offices. It also includes urgently needed grants for companies to invest in renewable energy technologies. The funding to repair our nation’s crumbling water and transportation systems will immediately create jobs and strengthen our nation’s roads, bridges, and pipes."

NRDC indicated in a brief summary that the House bill would provide: 3.4 billion for states for clean energy projects; A grants program for renewable energy technologies covered by the renewable energy tax incentives; $6.2 billion for weatherization of low income homes; $3.5 billion for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program (supports clean energy projects primarily at the city and county levels); $2 billion for clean energy research & development; $6 billion for increasing energy efficiency in federal buildings; $12 billion for transit (an amendment by Rep. Nadler (D-NY) increased transit funding from $9 to $12 billion); $2 billion for ready-to-go drinking water infrastructure projects; $6 billion for ready-to-go sanitation infrastructure projects.

Access the breakdown of the roll call vote (
click here). Access a statement from the Speaker (click here). Access a release from Representative Boehner (click here); and his Floor statement (click here). Access extensive coverage, links and video summaries of the debate posted on the Speakers blog site (click here); and including the Republican substitute here (click here). Access legislative details for H.R. 1 (click here). Access a release from NRDC (click here). [*All]