UPDATE–Feb. 14–The Senate late last night, approved (60-38) the economic recovery package. Three moderate Republicans–Arlen Specter (Penn.), Susan Collins (Maine) and Olympia Snowe (Maine)–broke ranks with party leaders and voted for the bill. All other Senate Republicans followed the lead of House Republicans from earlier in the day and voted against the jobs-creating legislation.
All Democrats supported the recovery package. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), continuing his treatment for cancer, was unable to attend the session.
President Obama is expected to sign the bill next week.
Some 3.5 million jobs will be created or saved, financially strapped states will receive fiscal relief to maintain vital services, jobless workers will get improved benefits and help in maintaining health coverage, and working families will have more money in their pockets from targeted tax cuts under a historic economic recovery package passed by the House this afternoon on a 246-183 vote.
Every Republican House member voted against the jobs bill, as did seven Democrats. Republicans had called for less spending and more Bush-style tax cuts for the wealthy.
The Senate is expected to approve the bill tonight or tomorrow with the support of a handful of moderate Republicans. President Obama is expected to sign it this weekend.
The final version of the bill, reached in conference this week, is a $789 billion package that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says will
save and create jobs, get our economy moving again and transform it for long-term growth and stability.
Overall, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R. 1) will:
- Create and save 3.5 million jobs, rebuilding America, including new “green jobs” that will boost the nation’s energy independence and global competitiveness.
- Give 95 percent of American workers an immediate tax cut.
- Invest in roads, bridges, mass transit, energy-efficient buildings, flood control, clean water projects and other infrastructure projects.
- Restore science and innovation as the keys to new American-made technology, preventing and treating disease, and tackling urgent national challenges like climate change and dependence on foreign oil.
- Invest money quickly into the economy.
An analysis by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) says the fiscal aid for the states in the bill
provides a quick boost to employment, as it prevents the scaling back of programs that are needed and that employ not only public employees but also an extensive array of private-sector contractors.
The bill also maintains the stronger Buy American language in the Senate-passed version. Scott Paul, executive director for the Alliance for American Manufacturing, says the Buy American provisions is a
major victory for American manufacturers and workers by preserving Buy America. Tax dollars in the economic recovery package will be invested in American-made materials for public infrastructure and building projects, leading to the creation of new American manufacturing jobs.
Click here for a detailed look at the recovery package.
Action on the final bill comes as the nation’s unemployment rate reached 7.6 percent in January, the highest since 1992. The economy has lost almost 1.8 million jobs in the past three months alone, the worst three-month performance since 1974. Overall, 3.6 million jobs have disappeared since the Bush recession began in December 2007.
The EPI analysis says the recovery package is a “critical step” in slowing the economy’s downward spiral, but adds:
Even with this package, we still have significant economic and policy challenges ahead of us, including stabilizing the housing market and preventing foreclosures; ensuring access to high-quality affordable health care; modernizing financial market regulations; improving our educational system; and much, much more. This is a first step toward righting our nation’s economic ship, but much work remains to be done to promote widely shared prosperity for all.