House passes $819 billion stimulus bill

Obama lobbied for the bill aggressively, but it garnered no Republican support. Senate likely to take up its version next week.

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By David Goldman, CNNMoney.com staff writer

How will the economic stimulus package help your job situation?
  • It won't make any difference
  • It will help me find a job
  • It will help me keep my job

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The House on Wednesday evening passed an $819 billion economic stimulus package Wednesday on a party-line vote, despite President Obama's efforts to achieve bipartisan support for the bill.

The final vote was 244 to 188. No Republicans voted for the bill, while 11 Democrats voted against it.

The Senate is likely to take up the bill next week.

"I hope that we can continue to strengthen this plan before it gets to my desk," Obama said in a statement after the vote. "We must move swiftly and boldly to put Americans back to work, and that is exactly what this plan begins to do."

In floor debate earlier, House Democrats offered near-unanimous support for the bill, touting the package's ability to quickly create jobs and jumpstart economic growth.

"One week and one day ago, our new President delivered a great inaugural address ... which I believe is a great blueprint for the future," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "With swift and bold action today, we are doing just that -- with this vote today, we are taking America in a new direction."

But Republicans, who are outnumbered in the House, have pushed back, expressing concern about the large amount of spending in the bill, and have criticized the tax cut provisions for not going far enough.

"The underlying bill, while it has some good provisions, has a lot of wasteful provisions and slow-moving spending in it," said House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio. "We have to act -- we have to heal the ailing economy. The question is how to do it best; we think that fast-acting tax relief is the way to get it done."

The House voted down a Republican amendment, which would have cut a significant portion of the bill's spending and greatly expanded the amount of tax cuts in the bill.

Obama spent much of his first week as president rallying support for the bill. After meeting with congressional leadership of both parties on Friday, he met with Republican congressional leaders on Tuesday and a dozen CEOs on Wednesday.

Obama and House Democrats etched out plans for a stimulus package in the weeks leading up to the president's inauguration. Two House committees amended and added some provisions, resulting in $607 billion in direct pending and appropriations and $212 billion in tax cuts.

The fact that 11 Democrats voted against the House package is significant, said Dan Clifton, the head of policy research at Strategas Research Partners.

"First, it gives Republicans cover," Clifton said. "And it gives extreme leverage to the Senate."

Next week, the full Senate will vote on its version, which differs in some significant ways from the House bill. The two chambers will then need to reconcile their differences before each vote on the final version. To pass the package in the Senate, Democrats will need 60 votes -- meaning at least two Republicans.

Senate passage is expected, Clifton said. "But it's a question of whether you get 60 votes or 80 votes."

Congress has put the legislation on a fast track, as many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree that swift action is needed to help pull the economy out of a deep recession. Both Democratic and Republican leaders have said they aim to get the bill to Obama's desk for him to sign before lawmakers' Presidents Day recess in mid-February.

-- CNN congressional producer Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report. To top of page

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