House passes $819 billion stimulus bill, state splits on partisan lines

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(Photo/Storm Crypt, Flickr)
(Photo/Storm Crypt, Flickr)
The Colorado congressional delegation split along partisan lines, with all five Democrats voting in favor of the $819 billion stimulus bill and both Republicans voting against it Wednesday evening. The House passed the measure 244-188, with not a single Republican voting for the massive spending and tax-cut bill the Obama administration pushed to propel the economy out of the worst recession since World War II.

Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter issued a statement immediately after the vote, calling the bill “a bold step to try to stabilize our economy.”

Republican Rep. Mike Coffman got in a dig at the opposition party in his statement, calling the bill a “Democrat-sponsored spending package” in what has become the common Republican habit of belittling the party by abjuring use of the word Democratic. “The American people deserve better than this pork-laden spending frenzy masquerading as a ‘stimulus package’,” the freshman Republican said.

“America is facing an economic crisis greater than any since the Great Depression, with a staggering 2.6 million American jobs lost in the last year and an unemployment rate in Colorado that has climbed to 6.1 percent,” said Democrat Diana DeGette, the dean of the state’s delegation, in a statement.

A statement issued by freshman Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey said she voted for the stimulus act because it will “create and save an estimated 3 to 4 million jobs nationwide, cut individual and business taxes, invest quickly in transportation and infrastructure and help rebuild our economy for long-term growth.”

“The time has come to set aside partisanship and invest in America to get our economy going again,” said Rep. Jared Polis, a freshman Democrat who serves with Perlmutter on the powerful House Rules Committee, in a statement. Polis spoke on the floor of the House in favor of the stimulus bill. View his speech here.

Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn celebrated his party’s solidarity against the bill in a release issued after the vote. “Despite President Obama’s personal appeal to Republicans, not a single Republican Congressman voted for this bill,” Lamborn’s release said. “The only bipartisan aspect of this legislation was the opposition to it.” He also managed to get in a reference to “Democrat leadership” in his lengthy statement (below).

Democratic Rep. John Salazar voted with the majority but hadn’t issued a statement by Wednesday evening.

Here’s Perlmutter’s statement:

“Over the last year, our nation has slipped further into a serious economic downturn. These are tough times for most of us. Many Americans are losing their jobs and their savings; businesses are failing and homes are being foreclosed. Today, Congress took a bold step to try to stabilize our economy by passing a historic bill providing tax relief to nearly every working American, creating or saving more than three million jobs, and laying the foundation for long-term economic growth in energy, transportation, technology and healthcare. This is a step in the right direction to putting our country’s economy back on track.”

Here’s Coffman’s statement:

“The American people are hurting and our economy is in a recession. We simply can’t prop up the economy through wastefully spending money we don’t have and can’t repay in any reasonable timeframe.”

Here’s DeGette’s statement:

“The House has taken the first step in delivering a plan to implement President Obama’s vision to get the economy back on track. Action on this economic recovery package will create American jobs now, lay a foundation for long-term growth through clean energy, innovation and education, with strict accountability measures to ensure that taxpayers dollar are spent wisely and effectively. Passage of this economic package will mean real change by rebuilding America’s roads and bridges and providing a tax cut to 95 percent of American workers. Now Congress must come together to act and finish the job of sending this job creation and economic recovery package to President Obama.”

Here’s Markey’s statement:

“Our economy is in crisis. In Colorado, unemployment is at 6.1% and is expected to rise. Local bridges and highways are falling into disrepair because of a lack of funding. Schools are unable to modernize their facilities and many will soon be forced to lay off teachers. Americans are struggling to make ends meet. We know it will take time to turn this economy around, but experts across the political spectrum agree that inaction will cause catastrophic damage to our country. This economic recovery plan will save or create an estimated 70,000 Colorado jobs by the end of 2010 and reduce the unemployment rate by roughly 2%. The Make Work Pay tax credit will benefit more than 1.7 million Coloradans. In the 4th Congressional District, schools will benefit from nearly $60 million in much-needed assistance. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will save and create jobs, rush tax relief to millions of Americans, and make long-term investments in our economic future.”

Here’s Polis’ statement:

“The time has come to set aside partisanship and invest in America to get our economy going again. This bill will immediately help prevent further job loss in hard-hit places like Adams County, by keeping hard-working Coloradans in their jobs so they can support their families and contribute to the economy.”

“It also lays the foundation for a stellar 21st Century Education System. It builds green high-tech schools, reaches out to at-risk and disabled children, and increases aid to college students and their families. Without it, we risk losing precious ground in our fight to close the gap in education and ensure that the next generation is well-equipped to compete and thrive in this globalized economy. I am proud to take part in this measure to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure – both physical and human – and renew confidence in our economy.”

Here’s Lamborn’s statement:

“The Democrat leadership and President Obama think we can tax and spend and go into debt on our way back to prosperity. Throwing money at the problem will not work. Instead, we need swift, across-the-board tax cuts that create jobs and not just another bloated Washington spending spree that over-promises and under-delivers.

“Democrats claim this stimulus legislation will create or save three million jobs. When you do the math that means he wants to spend about $275,000 per job. The average household income in the U.S. is $50,000 a year. That makes no sense economically.

“Although the Democrat’s proposal has been billed as a transportation and infrastructure investment package, in reality only $90 billion of the bill – about 11 % – is for road and highway spending. A recent study from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said that only 25 percent of infrastructure dollars can be spent in the first year. In other words, by the time most of the spending actually happens, the economy will likely have rebounded on its own!

“Additionally, this bill is crammed full of questionable programs that do not create jobs, such as spending $335 million for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, and $6 billion for weatherization programs.

“We are facing economic difficulties and we need wise and responsible action. We must embrace the tried and true economic and market principles that gave us the greatest economy in the world. After ineffectively throwing money at the problem, it is time for a new approach. It is time truly invest in projects which will stimulate our economy.”

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