All Maryland House Democrats Vote for Stimulus Bill - Southern Maryland Headline News

All Maryland House Democrats Vote for Stimulus Bill


No Republicans voted for the legislation

By LEONARD SPARKS


Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, speaks on the House floor Friday urging passage of HR 1, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

WASHINGTON (Feb. 13, 2009)—Each of Maryland's House Democrats voted Friday to approve a $787 billion spending and tax cut package (HR 1, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) that could bring billions to the state for transportation projects and support for schools, unemployed workers and businesses affected by the downturn.

No Republicans voted for the legislation, including Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick. But Democrats used their 77-seat majority to easily win passage by a vote of 246 to 183, sending the bill to the Senate for a final vote.

Even freshman Rep. Frank Kratovil, D-Stevensville, voted for the measure, which was a compromise with the Senate. He was one of just 11 Democrats to defect from the House's original vote on the stimulus package.

"Millions and millions and millions of Americans will receive a tax cut," Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, said during a 1 1/2-hour debate before the vote. "Millions and millions of millions of people will be helped as they've lost their jobs and can't put food on the table of their families."

The moderate Kratovil overcame his frustration with the original House bill, although the final bill still falls short in areas offering the "biggest bang for the buck," he said.

"Everyone seems to agree that we need to do something," he said. "I think the bill we got back was better. It's not perfect."

Democrats survived a barrage of criticism from Republicans, who excoriated the 1,000-page legislation as a pork-laden expansion of government spending that falls short on tax cuts and job creation.

Republicans also accused Democrats of ramming the bill through Congress without bipartisan cooperation.

Bartlett called the legislation "job killing," not "job making" in a statement.

"I hope this will work, but it would be the first time in history that a government could borrow and spend an economy out of a recession," he said. "This fulfills the wish of liberals to expand government spending and control over Americans' lives and their hard-earned money."

The legislation's goals are broad. President Obama and congressional Democrats are predicting that spending on such projects as highways and bridges will save or create 3.5 million jobs.

The bill designates about $54 billion to a "stabilization" fund to help states balance their budgets; $48 billion for airport, highway, port and transit projects; $6 billion for clean water and drinking water projects; and $6 billion for repairing public housing and redeveloping abandoned and foreclosed homes.

It also includes a tax credit of up to $400 for individuals and $800 for families, expanded eligibility for the child tax credit and a deduction for sales taxes on car purchases that was championed by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.

The legislation increases the federal share of Medicaid at a cost of $87 billion and authorizes $36 billion for 33-week unemployment benefit extensions and a $25 increase in weekly unemployment checks.

A state-by-state breakdown released by Hoyer's office estimates that the legislation will create or save 66,000 jobs for Maryland.

The state will gain an estimated $719 million from the stabilization fund, $705 million for infrastructure improvements and $255 million for its food stamps program, according to the analysis.

"Inaction is not an option," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Kensington. "'Just say no' is not an answer to the American people at this time, and if our colleagues on the other side of the aisle want to define themselves as the party of 'NoBama' I think that the American people will call them and say it's time for us work together."

Capital News Service reporters Megan Miller and Lauren C. Williams contributed to this report.

Hoyer Press Release on Passing of HR 1

House Passes Historic Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Conference Report

Plan to Create Jobs and Boost the Economy, Provide Relief to Families and States Headed to Senate for Final Vote

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD) today joined a majority (246-183) in the House of Representatives to approve final legislation to create and save 3.5 million American jobs, provide a much-needed boost to the economy, and lay the foundation for long-term growth. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act conference report is expected to receive a vote in the Senate later today and upon passage will be sent to the President’s desk for enactment.

“Marylanders have felt the impact of this economic downturn in lost homes, lost savings and lost jobs contributing to a state unemployment rate that has climbed to its highest level in 15 years,” said Rep. Hoyer. “Today, after weeks of debate, and in the depths of an economic crisis that has already claimed more than three and a half million American jobs, we begin our recovery. With final passage of this bill, we start putting Americans back to work with a plan that invests in our nation and our citizens at our time of greatest need and on a scale that equals the size of the problem we are confronted with.”

Under the bill, the State of Maryland is expected to receive approximately $3.3 billion to create and preserve 66,000 jobs; make investments in critical, job-creating infrastructure projects, and provide nutrition, unemployment, and healthcare assistance to those families who are being hit hardest by this recession. That includes an estimated $800 million for infrastructure projects; $700 million in fiscal stabilization; $1 billion to invest in education; and $1 billion to preserve Medicaid services.

In addition, the plan provides tax relief and incentives to working families and small business, including an immediate tax cut of up to $800 for two million Marylanders; expansions in the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit; middle-class protection from the AMT; help for first-time homebuyers; and a series of business tax incentives to create jobs and spur investment.

“These measures will provide an immediate jolt to our economy. But a real economic recovery isn’t just about responding to a short term emergency—it’s about building a wise foundation for the future,” stated Hoyer. “Besides creating jobs immediately, we will invest in new energy technologies, fund cutting-edge research, and help our hospitals save money and lives. All of those are investments that promise growth and savings in the years to come, to ensure that our nation does not slip back into recession.”

In addition, the Recovery Plan has significant accountability and transparency measures built in: no earmarks or pet projects, strong oversight of spending, and an historic degree of public transparency online at www.recovery.gov, so Members of Congress and citizens can track the success of these efforts. The plan also creates a new Accountability and Transparency Board that will be working to protect funds from waste and fraud.

“We’ve included in the recovery plan unprecedented levels of accountability and transparency, so our constituents will know that their tax dollars are being spent on getting us out of a recession, not siphoned off by the politically-connected,” stated Hoyer. “We know it will take time to turn this economy around, but this package is the bold action required to help strengthen our economy and put people back to work in our State and across America.”


RELATED INFORMATION:

Comprehensive Summary of HR 1, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
http://www.speaker.gov/newsroom/legislation?id=0273

More information and fact sheets on HR 1
http://www.majorityleader.gov/members/econ_crisis.cfm

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