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US House of Representatives to Vote on Stimulus Plan

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The House of Representatives is poised to approve an $825 billion stimulus measure sought by President Barack Obama to help spur a recovery in the U.S economy.  Most House Republicans are expected to vote against the bill saying it contains wasteful spending, while Democrats are mostly united in support of the measure.

Despite President Obama's visit Tuesday to the Capitol, House Republicans are following the line of their leadership in opposing the legislation.

In floor debate, Democratic House Appropriations Chairman David Obey urged lawmakers to support the president on the measure.

"The time for talk is over, we need to make decisions, and right now like it or not, the only comprehensive package before us, the only balanced package before us, is the one being brought to us in this bill today," he said.

Republicans used the same arguments they made before their meeting with the president, asserting the measure will not deliver sufficient tax cuts and enough targeted spending quickly enough to help the economy.

Indiana Republican Mike Pence accused Democrats of ignoring President Obama's call for bipartisanship.

"The promises of change and bipartisanship ring hollow in the face of a stimulus bill that does little more than fund a wish list of longstanding liberal spending priorities," said Pence.

California Democrat George Miller accused Republicans of trying to extend what he called failed economic policies of the Bush administration.

"Our friends on the other side of the aisle ask us just for one last time to do what they have been doing the last eight years, to just one more time give the tax cuts to the richest people in the country, to just one more time dive into the tank on fiscal irresponsibility," he said.

Appearing at the White House with business leaders before the House vote, President Obama expressed confidence the bill will pass, saying Americans are counting on bold and swift action at a perilous moment.

Democrat's substantial House majority virtually assures passage, although President Obama hoped a final vote will reflect more than just a party line result.

The $825 billion measure, a version of which will also be considered in the Senate, is a combination of spending on numerous domestic programs and tax cuts.

In additional floor debate, Republicans such as Wally Herger of California pointed to government figures indicating more limited short-term impact on the economy from the measure, while New Hampshire Democrat Carol Shea Porter referred to American's economic hardships and urged a yes vote on the bill:

HERGER:  "I cannot support a $825 billion bill that will not fully take effect until 18 months or two years down the road or even longer."
SHEA-PORTER:  "So many American families are hurting.  We must not only acknowledge their pain, we must help them recover.  This package will them recover, this package will help America recover."

In an alternative measure Democrats will allow the House to vote on, Republicans would add additional tax cuts and small business tax benefits, credits for home buyers, and put lawmakers on record opposing future tax increases as way of paying for spending.

But it is seen as having little chance of passing, clearing the way for a final vote on the main Democratic measure.

A separate version of the legislation is on the way to consideration in the Senate.

Congressional leaders have vowed to get a bill to President Obama for signature by the middle of next month when Congress has its next scheduled major break.   


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