This vote was on passing a bill that would provide $838 billion for tax cuts and additional spending to stimulate the flagging U.S. economy.
The bill would provide funds for a state fiscal stabilization fund and a one-time payment to seniors, disabled veterans and those who receive disability payments. It also would extend some bonus depreciation for assets in 2009, bolster and extend unemployment benefits (particularly in states with very high unemployment rates), and expand the homeownership tax credit by up to $15,000.
“We must act to replace some of the trillions of dollars in demand that the private sector lacks. We must act to support those who, through no fault of their own, have been thrown onto the rolls of the unemployed. We must act to prevent the economy from spiraling deeper into recession,” said Max Baucus, D-Mont. “The road before us is clear. We must pass the economic recovery and reinvestment legislation before us today. We must speedily resolve our differences with the House of Representatives. And we must get this bill to the President for signature without delay.”
Republicans spent much of their time arguing that the bill, which would spend an unprecedented amount of money, will saddle America’s children and grandchildren with astounding amounts of debt. They spent most of their time offering amendments that would have slashed the bill’s spending and instead bolstered tax cuts and tax credits. Some also complained that they were not included enough in the process of drafting the final legislation.
Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, said she believes that every senator would agree that a stimulus package is needed, but “it is how we spend the money that is in disagreement.”
“Right now the bill before us is one-third tax cuts and two-thirds spending. Even the tax cuts are not going to help create jobs or keep people in their homes, which should be our major focus,” Hutchison said. “I know my colleagues on the Democratic side are trying to do what they think is right. I know the President is. I know the Republicans are too. We are in disagreement because we have not had the ability to fully come together in a way that will allow give and take.”
By a vote of 61-37, the Senate passed the bill. Every Democrat present voted for the bill. All but three Republicans present voted against the bill (Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania). The end result is that the Senate passed a bill that would provide $838 billion for tax cuts and other spending aimed at stimulating the economy, easing unemployment and encouraging homeownership.