WASHINGTON — Democrats in the House on Wednesday muscled through a year-end plan to create jobs, mixing about $50 billion for public works projects with almost $50 billion for cash-strapped state and local governments.
The unemployed would get continued benefits. But absent from the plan were President Obama's recently announced proposals to give Social Security recipients $250 payments, a tax credit for small businesses that create jobs and a program awarding tax credits to people who make their homes more energy efficient.
Not a single Republican voted for the plan, which passed on a 217-212 vote after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., worked the floor for an hour. The measure now goes to the Senate, which won't consider the measure until next year and which generally has a smaller appetite for such deficit-financed economic stimulus measures.
Given increasing anxiety among Democrats over massive budget deficits and the party's poor marks with voters, the measure could face a tough road. Some 38 Democrats voted against the plan, mostly moderates and junior members elected from swing districts.
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According to documents released by Democrats, the measure would cost $154 billion. But there's also another $20 billion from the federal treasury to keep the highway trust fund afloat.
The measure blends a familiar mix of money for highway, transit and water projects and aid to help communities retain teachers and firefighters. There's also $41 billion for a six-month extension of more generous unemployment benefits and $12 billion to renew health insurance subsidies.
Many of the ideas are renewals of programs started in February's $787 billion economic stimulus bill, which has earned mixed reviews from the public as unemployment has hit 10 percent.
The idea behind the "Jobs for Main Street Act" was to enact fast-acting steps that would quickly boost employment. The bill also reflects concerns among rank-and-file Democrats that the original stimulus measure didn't have enough money for infrastructure projects.
But infrastructure spending is notoriously slow to spend out as projects need to be planned and can require a lengthy contracting process. Many of the so-called shovel-ready projects have already been funded.