Progressive Caucus co-chairs react to American Recovery and Reinvestment Act vote

WASHINGTON — The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed in the House of Representatives today. This critical legislation to create and save 3.5 million American jobs will be signed into law next week.

Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva supported the bill and releases this statement. Rep. Lynn Woolsey’s statement follows it.

“I voted to support today’s Recovery Act, a bill that is far from perfect, but opens up possibilities for many.

“While this package will not solve the entirety of the economic crisis consuming this country, it takes steps to ensure that our communities are not put on a pathway toward further disaster.

“This is a time in our country when our neighborhoods are declining, our streets are crumbling, and our schools are falling apart.

“Last month, the Department of Labor reported that the economy lost 598,000 jobs in January alone; that is the equivalent of more than three times the population of Yuma County, or half the population of Pima County, losing their jobs. With job loss numbers as staggering as these, and with the well-being of so many communities on the line, this recovery package is a sorely needed step in putting our country back on track.

“We only have one chance at this package and I believe its most important objective is ensuring that our society’s most vulnerable receive the help they deserve. This package is about putting people to work and helping to sustain local governments and facilities that have dilapidated. This is the package for those of us that do not make millions of dollars; this is the package that will provide benefits to you and your family, not Wall Street executives. By simply providing jobs, this package will put revenue into the pockets of many. This bill is not a bailout of corporations. It is government fulfilling its responsibility to care for its constituents.

“The State of Arizona is in a budget crisis that it is translating to cuts in the Department of Economic Security, slashed departments at our public universities and colleges, money taken from our children in elementary, junior high, and high schools, and increases in hunger, poverty, and the ranks of the uninsured. The Recovery Act will help stop this kind of hemorrhaging, which is why I support it.

“I remain upset that programs for people of the greatest need were stripped from the initial version of this bill. However, I support the final version of this bill because it is a package that allows workers, families, and local governments to be able to provide for their own. It will take time to turn this economy around, but I am confident that this package will make our economy stronger and more resilient.”

‘This is $800 billion times better than what we had three weeks ago’

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey today joined a majority in the House in backing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The legislation provides $789 billion in targeted investments designed to create or save 3.5 million jobs, including 7,600 jobs in Marin and Sonoma. In addition to funding for a variety of infrastructure and alternative energy projects, the legislation provides tax cuts for 95 percent of workers. As the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Woolsey has been active in shaping the legislation for months, and secured increased funding levels for a variety of progressive priorities.

“The first thing to recognize is that while this bill isn’t perfect, it’s $800 billion better than what we had a few weeks ago,” Woolsey said. “Our economy needs immediate assistance, and this package will provide it. It will get Americans back to work, rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, and provide crucial relief to our states and local governments.”

In December Woolsey and her fellow caucus co-chair Congressman Raul Grijalva wrote to President Obama on behalf of the Progressive Caucus calling for a $1 trillion recovery package, which included targeted investments to spur job creation and invest in human infrastructure. Several of the proposals such as increased funding for food stamps, unemployment insurance, and health care, were included in the House passed package. Following the passage of the Senate version earlier this week, Woolsey again wrote to Congressional leadership urging them to reinstate funding for school construction, healthcare coverage, Head Start, and aid to states, much of which was included in the final conference report.

Woolsey welcomed recent remarks by President Barack Obama that passage of the recovery package would be the first of many steps to help rebuild the economy:

“While certainly significant in size and scope, I remain concerned that this legislation is not large enough to confront the crisis we face, especially when it comes to investing in the human infrastructure that will lay the foundation for our future economic growth. I look forward to working with President Obama to strengthen our investments in health care, education, and job training that will allow our economy to recover and position our people for the future.”