US House approves $787 bn economic stimulus plan (Lead)

February 14th, 2009 - 7:27 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Feb 13 (Xinhua) The US House of Representatives Friday approved President Barack Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus package.
The plan was approved by a vote of 246-83 but with no Republican support.

Once the bill is passed by the Senate, it would be sent to the president to be signed into law. Obama has set a Feb 16 deadline for the bill.

The final version on the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Conference Report” was completed just before 11 p.m. Thursday night and posted online.

In addition to roughly $286 billion in tax cuts and $54 billion for cash-strapped states, the package contains $311 billion in appropriations, including $120 billion in infrastructure, $14.2 billion for health care, $105.9 billion for education and training.

It also includes more than $37.5 billion for energy infrastructure, $24.3 billion for those impacted by the economic crisis and $7.8 billion for law enforcement and other programmes.

Obama hailed the bill, noting that it will create over 3.5 million jobs in the next two years.

“It’s a plan that will ignite spending by businesses and consumers, make the investments necessary for lasting economic growth and prosperity and save or create more than 3.5 million jobs over the next two years,” said Obama in an address to business leaders at the White House earlier Friday.

“The goal at the heart of this plan is to create jobs, not just any jobs but jobs doing the work America needs done,” said the president.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says the bill could increase employment in a range of 800,000 to 2.3 million jobs by the fourth quarter of 2009 and 1.2 million to 3.6 million by the fourth quarter of 2010.

“We’re proud of the product … this is historical and transformational,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“Millions and millions of Americans will receive a tax cut” under the measure, said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, adding that “millions and millions of people … who have lost their jobs and can’t put food on the tables of their families will be helped by this bill.”

Republicans strongly slammed the bill, saying it is more a spending bill and is a colossal waste of money.

House Ways and Means Committee ranking member Dave Camp, a Republican, said Wednesday that the stimulus could create a short- term boon, but a long-term drag on the economy.

“Just so everybody knows, in 10 years the economy will be worse off, with less jobs,” he said.

“This is not the smart approach,” echoed Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. “The taxpayers of today and tomorrow will be left to clean up the mess.”

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