Thursday, February 12, 2009

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Moves to Final Vote in Congress

Following news of last night's compromise agreement between the Senate and the House of Representatives, President Obama released the following the statement:

I want to thank the Democrats and Republicans in Congress who came together around a hard-fought compromise that will save or create more than 3.5 million jobs and get our economy back on track. Just today, the CEO of Caterpillar said that if this American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan is passed, his company would be able to rehire some of the employees they’ve been forced to lay off. It’s also a plan that will provide immediate tax relief to families and businesses, while investing in priorities like health care, education, energy, and infrastructure that will grow our economy once more. I’m grateful to the House Democrats for starting this process, and for members in the House and Senate for moving it along with the urgency that this moment demands.

The House is expected to vote on the final bill sometime today, with a Senate vote following tomorrow.


In the course of negotiations, the President made clear that he was disappointed in some of the changes from his original proposal, but he has also made clear that saving and creating jobs is the most urgent priority and that Congress can return to other issues down the line. And some of those jobs might come even before the money starts flowing -- simply from the idea that help is on the way.

The President announced today, for example, that the CEO of an iconic American manufacturer, Caterpillar, would rehire some of the 20,000 workers who were recently laid off if the recovery package were passed.

But CAT’s not alone. The Denver Business Journal reported a few days ago that, "Telecommunications companies fore-see putting thousands of construction workers to work this year expanding the nation’s broadband infrastructure, fueled by the federal economic stimulus package." The Business Review Western Michigan describes how 85% of contractors could either hire new workers or avoid layoffs if the plan is passed. Even Google CEO Eric Schmidt said the company would "absolutely" hire new employees if the stimulus passes.

The same is true for local governments, which are likely to keep or add thousands of employees -- including police. "If you can use new police to stabilize a neighborhood, consolidate crime-reduction gains, then you can have a considerable impact on the local economy," Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, told the New York Times.

We'll have more details on the content of the final bill soon.

UPDATE: CNN reports that the House vote has been delayed until tomorrow, but that the bill is not in jeopardy. The final text conference report detailing the compromise has yet to be completed.

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