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House Passes Stimulus With No GOP Votes

by John Nichols

Weeks of negotiation and compromising -- which a reasonably populist job creation and economic recovery bill turned into a tepid plan weighted down with conservative tax schemes -- still did not gain a single vote from House Republicans for the federal stimulus plan.

The House on Friday approved the $787 billion measure by a 246-183 vote.

The votes in favor of the stimulus came from 246 Democrats.

The votes against it came from 176 Republicans and seven Democrats.

The only real shift from the vote on the original House bill -- which included a great deal more spending for school construction, state aid and health care initiatives with the potential to create jobs and ease the pain of the economic downturn -- was the decline in Democratic opposition.

When the measure was initially considered, 11 Democrats -- most of the conservative Blue Dogs -- vote "no." On Friday, only seven Democrats voted against it. (Among the switchers was Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper, a prominent Blue Dog. Another switcher was Pennsylvania Congressman Paul Kanjorski, the chair of the Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises.)

The bill now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass with the support of all Democratic caucus members and three Republicans -- Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

Though they account for less than one percent of the overall membership of the Congress, Collins, Snowe and Specter have successfully redefined the legislation as something less than the majority Democrats proposed -- and, unsettlingly, something less than may be needed to renew a sagging economy.

Collins, Snowe and Specter did not, however, succeed in convincing any Republicans that they changes they made were close enough to the opposition party's generally agreed upon goal of doing little or nothing to address the current crisis.

For Americans who would like to do something most members of Congress have not, the bill -- including scribbled changes -- can be read here.

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