House passes economic recovery bill

Original source: Hoping to put the brakes on an economy spiraling downhill and out of control, the House today passed (244-188) an $825 billion economic recovery package that could create or save as many as 4 million jobs. Said President Barack Obama, shortly before the vote:

When we it comes to rebuilding our economy, we don’t have a moment to spare.

With the jobless rate at 7.2 percent and expected to worsen for much of the year, and the loss of 2.6 million jobs last year—the biggest one-year job loss since 1945—AFL-CIO President John Sweeney says:

It would be impossible to overstate the trouble our economy is in. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is absolutely essential to turning around this downward economic spiral. This is no time for weak excuses—Congress must act decisively to create jobs and rescue the economy.

The bill includes $550 billion for investments such as ready-to-go infrastructure projects, help for states that are facing record budget shortfalls that threaten vital services such as education and health, and assistance for the nation’s tens of millions of unemployed workers. It also provides $275 billion in targeted tax relief for families and businesses.

The Senate is expected to vote on its version of the recovery package next week. But the Senate bill is more heavily weighted toward tax cuts rather than job-creating investments. As reported by the Senate Finance and Appropriations committees, it contains $365 billion in targeted investments and some $500 billion in tax cuts.

(Click here to tell senators to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act now.)

In a letter to House members, AFL-CIO Government Affairs Director Bill Samuel says the bill’s $550 billion in targeted investments will create new jobs and prevent others from vanishing.

Investments in infrastructure and energy would provide millions of good-paying jobs that cannot be off-shored, while helping us move toward a cleaner, greener future. Investments in schools would help us educate our children and help struggling school districts make up for budget shortfalls caused by the collapse of their property tax base. States and localities would be better able to meet budgetary pressures caused by increasing demand on the important programs they administer.

A study by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) shows the bill will provide immediate help to the economy. Says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.):

According to the CBO, about two-thirds of the plan’s recovery investments will come on the first 18 months…[it] will create jobs, help end the recession sooner, provide tax relief to millions of Americans and make critical long-term investments to lay the foundation for a stronger economy.

Click here for a detailed summary of the bill.

Today’s vote mostly broke along party lines despite Obama’s call for bipartisanship, including traveling to Capitol Hill yesterday to meet with Republican House and Senate leaders.