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...And the Senate Follows Suit

February 13, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Hot on the heels of the House of Representatives, the Senate this evening gave final congressional approval to the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act by a vote of 60-38 – not a vote to spare. President Obama will sign the bill into law on Monday.

Since it’s Friday night and I’m busy with other things, here’s what the Washington Post has to say:

>The bill, which passed the House 246 to 183 and the Senate 60 to 38, represents the start of a new ideological era that places the federal government at the center of the nation’s economic recovery. It also provides a down payment on much of President Obama’s domestic agenda, including his pledges to upgrade the nation’s aging roads, bridges, and electricity grid; overhaul health-care record-keeping and invest billions in alternative energy research to reverse climate change and wean the country from foreign oil.
>The legislation is an early triumph for Obama, even though he was able to attract only three Republican senators to sign on to an effort that he once hoped would pass with large majorities from both parties. Nevertheless, the White House and Democratic congressional leaders were able to move what became an 1,100-page bill from first draft to final passage in less than a month, keeping to the ambitious timetable they set.
>The package combines tax cuts with new spending, and three-quarters of the money is planned to reach state capitals, businesses and individual taxpayers by the end of September 2010. Its virtues and limitations will remain uncertain until the money is paid out in the form of road projects, unemployment checks and energy-efficient building improvements, but its reach is already clear.
>The New Deal of the 1930s equaled no more than 2 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. The new legislation represents over 5 percent and is probably no more than an opening bid — Obama and his congressional allies will next turn to the foreclosure crisis, the reform of financial markets and an overhaul of federal budget practices.
>"Passing this plan is a critical step," Obama said at the White House yesterday morning. “But as important as it is, it’s only the beginning of what we must do to turn our economy around.”

In both the Senate and House, the stimulus bill was passed by near party-line votes. Of the 535 members of Congress, only three Republicans voted in favor of the bill:

Sen. Susan Collins [R, ME]
Sen. Olympia Snowe [R, ME]
Sen. Arlen Specter [R, PA]

And only 7 Democrats voted against it:

Rep. Bobby Bright [D, AL-2]
Rep. Peter DeFazio [D, OR-4]
Rep. Parker Griffith [D, AL-5]
Rep. Walter Minnick [D, ID-1]
Rep. Collin Peterson [D, MN-7]
Rep. Heath Shuler [D, NC-11]
Rep. Gene Taylor [D, MS-4]

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