Friday, February 13, 2009

Just in from Washington

Putnam photo

House Approves Stimulus With No Republican Support

Washington--With a final vote of 246 to 183, Congress passed the Stimulus package, reflecting the Democrats' considerable majority and the Republicans' deep dissatisfaction with the $787 billion dollar legislation.

“While I support a number of programs and ideas that are reflected in the package we voted on today," said Congressman Mike Simpson. "I can not support the astronomical amount of money that is being thrown at this problem with very little thought and no debate.”

Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick joined his constituents in opposing today a bill to add nearly $1 trillion to what is already a record federal budget deficit. Minnick voted against the final version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as the stimulus bill. Minnick also voted against the first version of the bill.

“It is important to act and do so decisively, but we must be mindful of the legacy we leave for future generations,” Minnick said. “The consequences of this bill will be painful and possibly harsh for those tasked with the burden of paying for what has been passed today.”

Minnick last week introduced the Strategic Targeted American Recovery and Transition (START) Act of 2009, which focuses on job creation and infrastructure investment. The Act would have appropriated $20 billion for school modernization, $4 billion for job training and workforce investment, $50 billion for shovel-ready highway, bridge and road projects, and $100 billion in tax cuts targeted at those who will spend the money quickly. Minnick worked quietly to gain support from others whose constituents elected them to go to Washington and do things differently. Minnick said he had hoped his bill, with only 20 percent of the total cost but even more direct investment in infrastructure, would be seen as a common starting point upon which all could agree.

“My bill was a high-powered rifle. This bill is a shotgun, and it will add nearly $1 trillion we do not have to a debt already out of control,” Minnick said. “Clearly we needed to act, which is why I proposed my own measure. I agree with the need to put money into the system immediately, help people stay in their homes, get the banking system working again and put Americans back to work. But this bill is too much spending with too little investment in the jobs we need right now.

“Our country needs repair," added Simpson. "It needs help. People are losing their jobs and their homes - we need to act. However, we need to act in a thoughtful manner that includes opinions from all Americans, not just those who control the U.S. House. The way in which this body has conducted its business today – and the entire time we’ve tried to discuss this extremely important legislation – is an embarrassment.”

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