The US House of Representatives has passed President Barack Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus plan aimed at jump-starting the country's teetering economy, setting up a Senate vote expected for later tonight.
REUTERS - The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday approved a $787 billion package of spending and tax cuts aimed at rescuing the struggling economy and the Senate was expected to vote on the plan later in the day.
The compromise plan was approved by a vote of 246-183 but no Republicans voted for it, dashing President Barack Obama's quest for bipartisan support that he had hoped would break the gridlock that has gripped Congress for years.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer chastised Republicans, saying they were sticking to the same prescription for the economy that had proved a failure during eight years of leadership from President George W. Bush.
"Millions and millions of Americans will receive a tax cut" under the measure, he said, 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."
Representative Mike Pence, a member of the Republican leadership, said during the closing floor debate, "The only thing the Democrats' stimulus bill will do is stimulate more government and more debt."
"The American people are asking, 'what's 13 bucks a week going to do to get this economy moving again for the average American?'" he said, referring to extra money that will come in paychecks because of reduced taxes withheld by employers.
Republicans had pressed for larger tax cuts instead of big spending projects but most of their efforts to change the bill failed.
The president has urged the Democratic-controlled Congress to pass the stimulus bill before the end of the upcoming holiday weekend so he can sign it into law. His goal is to create or save 3.5 million jobs in an economy that has seen massive job losses since the recession began in December 2007.
Obama pressed his case for the stimulus package earlier when he met corporate chief executives at the White House before the votes.
"It's a plan that will ignite spending by businesses and consumers, make the investments necessary for lasting economic growth and prosperity," Obama said, adding that 90 percent of jobs saved and created would be in the private sector.
The Senate was expected to follow with its own vote later on Friday which if approved, as expected, would send the legislation to Obama for his signature.
Date created : 2009-02-13