House passes stimulus bill


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, here with Rep. Steny Hoyer, delayed the House vote until Friday.
The House of Representatives on Friday approved a $787 billion economic stimulus bill by a vote of 246-183.

Final Senate approval is likely to come as early as Friday evening. The House vote came after a day of tense debate on the chamber’s floor. Some representatives expressed frustration over how little time they had to read the 1,000-plus page bill. The bill came out around 11 p.m. Thursday. “You can’t be serious. This would be humorous if it wasn’t so sad,” said Rep. Tom Price, R-Georgia. “What’s in it Have you read it” Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tennessee, encouraged his colleagues to vote no. “Just because Republicans spent too much money after September 11 and lost our way on financial matters doesn’t mean the Democratic party should be allowed to wreck our ship of state. This is taking us quickly down the wrong road. Vote no,” Wamp said. Other lawmakers, however, said they were hopeful the stimulus plan would get the economy back on track.

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“We know this bill alone will not solve all of our economic woes overnight. We know that the road back to economic stability and prosperity will require hard work over time,” said Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colorado. “But this bill is the right size and scope necessary to truly help us turn things around.” Despite direct lobbying by the Obama administration in the last couple of weeks, many moderate House Republicans still firmly opposed the bill. No Republicans supported the House version of the plan earlier. Before the House originally voted on the stimulus measure in January, 11 House Republicans attended a meeting at the White House with Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to discuss their possible support. Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-Pennsylvania, said he got calls from two Cabinet members Thursday — Housing and Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood — but said the bill didn’t include the “fundamental change I think is needed.” Another Republican, Rep. Candice Miller of Michigan, said she believes the compromise between the House and Senate is worse than the original House bill. “I really wanted to get to ‘yes’ because Lord knows we need the help in Michigan,” she said. Miller said she asked for more direct help for the ailing auto industry and was disappointed the tax credit for auto buyers was reduced. President Obama made an impassioned final plea earlier Friday for passage of the plan, arguing that it is a critical first step on the road to economic recovery. “I don’t need to tell you that we are in tough economic times,” Obama said to a group of business leaders at the White House hours before the most important congressional vote of his young administration. The stimulus package is likely to land on Obama’s desk by the Democratic leadership’s self-imposed deadline of Presidents Day on Monday. Watch Obama say it’s time for Congress to act » Taking no chances, the Democratic National Committee and Obama’s Organizing for America also are using Obama’s vast e-mail list to contact the president’s political supporters and point them to a new Web page for stories of people affected by the economic downturn. The goal is to drum up public support for the measure as Congress prepares to vote on it. CNNMoney: How the stimulus may affect your wallet The stories were collected last weekend from Obama supporters who attended one of 3,600 meetings held across the country to discuss the situation, according to the DNC. In all, 31,030 stories were submitted to the DNC and Organizing for America, a grass-roots movement that grew out of the campaign. Read the stories The House, which had originally planned to vote on the package Thursday, was forced to wait until Friday after many rank-and-file Democrats who were unhappy with some spending cuts demanded time to read the compromise measure. iReport: Your thoughts on the stimulus The Senate vote will be held open for the arrival of Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who will be attending a wake for his mother until about 8 p.m. Friday, said Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada. Despite the grumblings of some House Democrats unhappy with the spending measures, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said Thursday she was pleased with the outcome of the negotiations. Read the compromise: Part 1 | Part 2 The stimulus deal was struck Wednesday after a furious day of negotiations on Capitol Hill involving House and Senate leaders, administration officials and the three moderate Republicans: Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Of the 219 Republicans in Congress, they were the only ones who backed the bill. Reid on Thursday was calling on other Republican centrists in an attempt to persuade more of them to vote for the measure, an aide said. The Senate’s version of the bill narrowly passed Tuesday by a 61-37 vote — one more than needed. Reid was looking for additional votes out of an abundance of caution, the aide said, after learning that Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, who returned to Capitol Hill for votes earlier this week, will not be present for the final vote because he returned to Florida to continue his recovery from brain cancer. Reid was concerned that if a Democratic senator gets sick or has some other unforeseen obligation, he could have trouble getting the bill passed, the aide said. Reid also was concerned because the three GOP moderates suggested they did not want to provide the decisive 60th vote for passage, the aide said. Here’s how the compromise bill is expected to affect individuals: Most individuals will get a $400 tax credit, and most couples will get an $800 credit. That amounts to an extra $13 a week in a person’s paycheck, starting in June. That’s less than what Obama campaigned on — $500 for individuals and $1,000 per couple. Many students will get $2,500 tuition tax credit. First-time home buyers may qualify for a tax credit of up to $8,000.

People who receive Social Security will get a one-time payment of $250. The overall package is estimated to be 35 percent tax cuts and 65 percent spending, Democratic sources said.

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