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All or Nothing?

February 24, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Sen. Charles Schumer [D, NY] has sent a letter to OMB Director Peter Orszag arguing that the stimulus bill does not allow Governors to pick and choose which portions of the bill they will accept. In the past few days, Several Governors, mainly (but not exclusively) Republicans, have said that they intend to turn down some of the stimulus funds – specifically the funds for extending unemployment benefits.

Here’s an excerpt from Schumer’s letter:

As you know, Section 1607(a) of the economic recovery legislation provides that the Governor of each state must certify a request for stimulus funds before any money can flow. No language in this provision, however, permits the governor to selectively adopt some components of the bill while rejecting others. To allow such picking and choosing would, in effect, empower the governors with a line-item veto authority that President Obama himself did not possess at the time he signed the legislation. It would also undermine the overall success of the bill, as the components most singled out for criticism by these governors are among the most productive measures in terms of stimulating the economy.

And here’s Section 1607 of the stimulus bill:

SEC. 1607. (a) Certification by Governor- Not later than 45 days after the date of enactment of this Act, for funds provided to any State or agency thereof, the Governor of the State shall certify that: (1) the State will request and use funds provided by this Act; and (2) the funds will be used to create jobs and promote economic growth.

(b) Acceptance by State Legislature- If funds provided to any State in any division of this Act are not accepted for use by the Governor, then acceptance by the State legislature, by means of the adoption of a concurrent resolution, shall be sufficient to provide funding to such State.

© Distribution- After the adoption of a State legislature’s concurrent resolution, funding to the State will be for distribution to local governments, councils of government, public entities, and public-private entities within the State either by formula or at the State’s discretion.

What do you think? The language, “in any division of this Act,” in part (b) indicates to me that the Governors do have some discretion over the individual parts, but that their decisions can be overruled by their legislature. Anyone have another interpretation of this?

Related: Schumer, Gillibrand: New York Will Take Stimulus Leftovers

UPDATE: Steve Benen at Washington Monthly picks up on this post, via Sarabeth at, and passes the question of interpretation onto his readers.

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  • Anonymous 02/24/2009 9:43am

    It would appear that the “weasels” in D.C. have managed to userp the state governors power to decide what is best for their respective states!I just wonder where all the outrage is from all real Americans? God help us all!!!

  • Anonymous 02/24/2009 10:00pm
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    + -2

    Real Americans would not deny unemployment to their fellow citizens in an attempt to play politics. That is an abuse of power and good for Schumer standing up for real Americans that lost their jobs and are now being victimized for a second time by their own Governor.

  • Anonymous 02/25/2009 2:44am
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    + -2

    The shops are empty; the freeways during rush hour are like taking a Sunday morning drive and every week you read about another 50,000 people being fired – yet in spite of 8 years of systematic disassembly of the Federal Government and deliberate budget busting to ensure that “government” fails to enhance a political philosophy, conservative anarchists continue to insist that help for people is somehow “interference” with someone’s “rights”.

    When we return to the kind of thinking where “up” is NOT “down”, “day” is NOT “night”, “opinion” is NOT “fact” and “failure” is NOT “success”, then this country will begin to recover. Until that day arrives, we will continue to argue ourselves into a hole from which we will never be able to be extricated.

  • mitchpamf 02/25/2009 8:44am

    Real Americans would demand an Impeachment of anyone who doubles the national debt with social-engineering tax-payer-funded expenditures and then claims he will reduce that deficit in four years time!

    How could he accomplish this?! By raising your taxes and cutting the military? No Thanks. Vote No Confidence and return this great country to fiscally responsible leadership.

    Real Americans don’t believe in Unemployment insurance & subsequent payouts to people not working. We prefer to see businesses put their capital into providing products at low cost, while employing people make those products.

    In Obama’s world, just like in Owen’s New Harmony, the few Americans remaining at their posts will not long endure if their hard work is stolen from them to pay for all the social-programs for the increasing numbers of non-productive Americans. Somebody stop the madness – You Cannot Tax Your Way to Prosperity. You Cannot Borrow from the “unproductive” future to pay for socialized-idleness today.

    Stop borrowing on tomorrow. Stop paying people to be unproductive.

  • Anonymous 02/25/2009 8:59am

    I’m happy for the stimulus plan, I think it is a step in the right direction, but it’s still annoying to hear about people playing frivolous political games with our energy infrastructure, our children’s education, and really the future of the planet. Just listened to a podcast ( about a book from the progressive movement, talked about how we need to restore our faith in government, and how government needs to reform to be something we can have faith in. I hope Obama can pull it off.

  • Anonymous 02/25/2009 12:08pm

    Using mitchpamf’s standard, Reagan should have been impeached 3 times; he inherited a $1 billion deficit in 1980 from Carter and by the time he was done with the Contras and the USSR, it was $3 billion.

    And as for Bush’s “social engineering” experiment in Iraq, the argument stops being merely silly and starts to enter the fringes of the profane.

    Why do conservatives insist on finding some war on another country to bring this nation to it’s financial knees while failing to see the utility of investing in it’s own people? The Muslims have their Al Quaida, the Palestinians have their Hamas, and now we have the Republican Party.

  • redhawk 02/26/2009 5:15am

    The states are supposed to control the federal government, not the other way around. Read the tenth amendment! This nation is still in debt for FDR’s “bailout” of the depression. Our great, great, great grandchildren won’t have this new one paid off. A democracy will only stand until the people figure out that they can vote themselves government endowments.

  • JohnB 02/26/2009 12:37pm

    He’s right in saying the bill does NOT say you can cherry pick parts, BUT at the same time it doesn’t say you CAN’T. Schumer is playing politics reading something into the bill that’s not there. What business is it of his what the governors do with the bill?

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