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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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