Friday, February 13, 2009

Update: House Passes Stimulus

By a vote of 246-183, the House has passed the economic stimulus package. Zero Republicans supported the conference report (final version) while 7 Democrats voted against it and one voted present.

They were quick to post the final results on passage online, so I can name names. Democrats voting No:

-Bright (AL)
-DeFazio (OR) (this one is surprising, he's one of the most liberal Democrats in the House. He had complained about there being not enough transportatoin spending in the bill, and also was upset that the House didn't wait longer after the conference report was agreed to to vote on the bill.)
-Griffith (AL)
-Minnick (ID)
-Peterson (MN) (the chairman of the agriculture committee)
-Shuler (NC)
-Taylor (MS)

Lipinski (IL) voted present. Can't possibly try to explain that one.

Besides DeFazio, none of these are particular surprises. I am rather surprised that one Republican, Joseph Cao, did not end up supporting the bill, as I mentioned he would last night. Apparently, there was some intense lobbying going on behind the scenes by the Republican leadership, who want to, as their new chairman Michael Steele would say, "lay a giant goose egg on the President's desk." I can't imagine Cao (and a couple of others) not getting some flak in their home districts for this vote. Cao represents the economically depressed New Orleans, and is only in office because his opponent, the incumbent, had been indicted on felony charges. Obama received 75% of the vote in this district.

Previously, the House rejected a Republican motion to send the bill back to the conference committee to change the bill by a vote of 186-244. 14 Democrats voted for it, and 4 Republicans voted against it. The House also had to vote on a rule governing debate, a motion to proceed with the bill even though it added to the federal deficit, and a motion to order the previous question (basically, a way to kill time, we'll write a definition of this later). All of those procedural hurdles were cleared on party line votes. The Republicans made a big stink during the debate about how Democrats didn't allow for the bill to be available online 48 hours prior to voting. The other day, the House voted unanimously to "suggest" that the bill be made available for that long. I don't understand why the Democrats agreed to this suggestion when they knew they wanted to get the bill passed quickly and that the Republicans were going to make a bunch of process-related arguments. I would say that 50% of Republican speeches today (from what I saw) were objections to the process, and not on the content of the bill. I wonder why they think the American people care about process?

The Senate will vote on final passage of the bill this evening, subject to a 60 vote threshold. As we mentioned last night, there are some scheduling considerations that are in play. With Ted Kennedy not coming back to vote on the conference report, the Democrats, most likely, have exactly 60 votes for passage. Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown is in Ohio attending the funeral of his mother. He is not expected back until 7or 8pm. So I guess they'll vote then, right? Wrong! Joe Lieberman, a devout orthodox Jew, will not vote on the sabbath (the Strike's feeling guilty that he hasn't been lighting the Shabbat candles lately!!). Therefore, the vote will take place at 5pm and Majority Leader Reid will hold the vote open until Senator Brown is able to return (probably three hours later).

We'll talk more later about what the lessons are here for Obama, but the House Republicans have clearly rejected his bipartisan overtures, and make it unlikely that they'll be included in the crafting of legislation any time soon.

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