Congress has approved a $787 billion economic stimulus bill and sent it to President Obama.
Three moderate Republican senators crossed party lines and provided the needed votes to pass last night. The Senate in Washington approved the bill on a 60-38 vote hours after the United States House approved it 246-183. No Republicans in the House voted for the bill. Seven House Democrats voted against it.
President Obama pushed for the measure, insisting that the federal government needed to help an economy in retreat. Supporters say it will either create or retain 3.5 million jobs.
Congressman Lacy Clay of St. Louis enthusiastically supported the bill, claiming it to be the most significant jobs bill in the nation’s history.
"This legislation will help us create and protect 3 to 4 million American jobs. At least 69,000 of those jobs will be in Missouri. The bill also invests almost $1 billion in infrastructure projects across our state, many of them critical to public safety and job creation."
Fellow Missouri Democrats joined Clay in voting for the bill. No Missouri Republicans in the US House voted for the bill.
The same party split held in the Senate. Democratic Senator McCaskill, a strong supporter of President Obama who has been very public in support of the legislation, voted for the bill. Republican Senator Bond voted against it
Bond warned the bill will open the floodgates to irresponsible spending of tax dollars. He said the bill will do little to create jobs.
"Hold on to your wallets folks because with the passage of this trillion-dollar baby the Democrats will be poised to spend as much as $3 trillion in your tax dollars," Bond said in a statement issued by his office. "Taxpayers will be on the hook for spending that will stimulate the debt, stimulate the growth of government, but will do little to stimulate jobs or the economy."
Other Republicans complained portions of the bill won’t inject money into the economy soon enough to help it climb out of its current down cycle. Some critics stated that they didn’t necessarily object to all of the spending in the bill, but some portions should have been voted on separately.
The pricetage of the bill, though huge, was revised downward a bit by the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO trimmed $2 billion dollars off the estimated cost of the bill after reviewing the final compromise language.
Tax cuts added to the bill during Senate-House negotiations failed to lure Republican as had been hoped. They will provide a bit more money in the average American’s pocketbook, reducing federal withholdings. Many businesses will also benefit from tax cuts, designed to help businesses retain employees or even hire more workers. Billions of dollars have been appropriated for infrastructure repair, school renovations, health care subsidies, an extension of unemployment benefits, even aid to states struggling to balance budgets.