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
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.