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In the End, GOP Holds Firm on Stimulus

By Ben Pershing

The House passed one of the largest pieces of legislation in the country's history today almost completely along party lines, giving President Obama a win on the first major plank of his agenda but without the bipartisan support he so dearly sought.

The 246-183 tally on the $787 billion economic stimulus measure included not a single Republican vote in favor of the bill, while seven Democrats -- mostly conservative "Blue Dogs" -- broke from their party by voting against the measure. One Democrat, Rep. Daniel Lipinski (Ill.), voted "present." The Senate is expected to vote tonight, with only three Republicans likely to back the measure there.

House Republicans were unanimous in their opposition when the first version of the bill came through the chamber, despite a full-court lobbying campaign by Obama and top administration officials. And just as Obama's considerable lobbying effort did not work in turning any Republicans around on the first vote, his efforts at persuasion fell short again today, even after the bill was trimmed slightly to attract a handful of Republican votes in the Senate.

To the end, Democratic leaders had hoped to pick off at least one or two Republicans -- if only to prevent headlines trumpeting the lack of support from the minority. But their failure became clear several minutes into the roll call vote, when members, aides and reporters looked up at the electronic voting board in the House chamber and noted that GOP Reps. Joseph Cao (La.) and Mike Castle (Del.) had both voted against the bill. Cao, the freshman who won a surprise upset victory against indicted Rep. William Jefferson (D), had said he was "leaning yes" before today's vote. And Castle, one of the most prominent -- and last -- House Republican centrists, had said he was genuinely undecided.

They and other Republicans who might otherwise have been persuaded to back the bill refused to do so, with some moderates like Reps. Jim Gerlach (Pa.) and Mark Kirk (Ill.) becoming increasingly critical of the measure as time went on. What had started off as a debate over the bill's substance eventually became one about process too, and even some Republicans who might otherwise have been amenable to the bill's priorities appeared upset about the way it was crafted and hustled to the floor with less than 24 hours for them -- and the public -- to scrutinize it.

One Republican who was definitely not persuaded was Rep. Aaron Schock, the freshman Illinois lawmaker whose profile has grown exponentially over the last week because of the stimulus debate. Schock's Peoria-based district includes the headquarters of Caterpillar Inc., the site of a much-publicized visit from Obama yesterday. During the event, Obama singled out Schock for attention.

"Aaron's still trying to make up his mind about our recovery package," Obama said, after asking Schock to stand up. "He has a chance to be in the mold of Bob Michel and Ray LaHood. And so we're, we know that all of you are going to talk to him after our event, because he's a very talented young man. I've got great confidence in him to do the right thing for the people of Peoria."

That may seem like a lot of pressure for a 27-year-old freshman -- Schock is the youngest member of the House -- but it wasn't enough to swing his vote. On the House floor today, Schock said that not a single Caterpillar employee had come up to him at the event and asked him to support the stimulus bill, but more than 1,000 had called or written asking him to oppose it. And in the end, he decided that the bill smelled worse the longer he studied it.

"What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself," Schock said, quoting a previous occupant of his House seat -- Abraham Lincoln.

As for the Democrats, seven voted against the measure -- Reps. Bobby Bright (Ala.), Peter DeFazio (Ore.), Parker Griffith (Ala.), Walt Minnick (Idaho), Collin Peterson (Minn.), Heath Shuler (N.C.) and Gene Taylor (Miss.). All except DeFazio voted against the bill the first time, on Jan. 28, when a total of 11 Democrats voted no. Most of the seven are Blue Dogs and believe the bill was too big and too fiscally irresponsible to support, given the size of the current national deficit and debt.

A slightly larger sign of Democratic unrest came earlier this morning on the vote for the rule governing debate on the stimulus package. Rule votes are nearly always party-line affairs and are considered important loyalty tests by the leaders of both parties, regardless of how members might vote on the underlying bill. But 21 Democrats voted against the rule for the stimulus bill, more than double the number that defected on the rule when the measure first passed back in January, and far more than would usually defy their party leadership on such a tally.

By Ben Pershing  |  February 13, 2009; 3:20 PM ET
Categories:  Agenda , House  
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Comments

Why is bipartisanship all of a sudden so important to journalists? You never cared when Bush was ramming everything down the minority's throat.

You'd think people in the media, a layoff-ravaged industry if there ever was one, would be a little more balanced about the need to keep people employed.

It seems like the only jobs you care about protecting are Republicans'.

Posted by: swallen1 | February 13, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

The blue dogs are what, exactly? The new Dixiecrats? If they continue with this nonsense they will make themselves into Republicans and the rest of the party can safely ignore them... Or is that the whole point here?

Posted by: rmtaylor2 | February 13, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

the blue dogs campaign as democrats; and once elected, vote repig.

fine by me. zero out every friggin dollar directed towards those districts whose representatives voted against the stimulus. afterall, it's what their constituents demand.

walk the talk, boyz and girlz.

Posted by: mycomment | February 13, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

It is such a good feeling to know that the Republicans and the blue dogs who are really republicans in hillbilly clothing have become irrelevant. Let them continue to dig the hole they have been digging these past 8 years. All they want are more and more tax cuts that mostly benefit the few and not the many. Trickle down economics is a false god and a proven failure and the chump change the rebublicans have given the middle class and those in need these past 8 years in tax breaks have done nothing to help our situation. Republicans have destroyed our economy so they should hush up and let those that are not neocon brainwashed manage the recovery.

Posted by: goofycarly | February 13, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

I find it amazing that all the posters so far are talking like oposing this spending bill is a bad thing. All of you oposed the first
$700 billion because it was from President Bush, I oposed it because it was wrong. I oppose this bill because it is wrong, wreckless, and it will not save jobs or stimulate spending or growth. All it will do is instantly put us $ one trillion dollars deeper in dept.

Posted by: markandbeth | February 13, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

John Boehner must be sooooooo proud! After all...why should he care about the people who need help because they have no jobs and are losing their homes. HE still gets a paycheck and keeps his excellent health insurance. HE still has a nice place to live.
He doesn't have a care in the world. Hope his constituents appreciate his efforts on their behalf!

Posted by: susanr1 | February 13, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

The first bailout WAS wrong. But if you're going to bail out Wall Street millionaires, you have to bail out the working class. Both, or none.

As for bipartisanship, Obama has come to power as a conciliator. It's in his political DNA. He says he didn't expect results overnight, and he should be taken at his word. As it is, Repubs look like the bad guys. They created the problem, and now they're not willing to help solve it. They're not going to regain power as a party of obstructionists.

And as for the Blue Dogs - you have to give to get. You don't want to support your President, don't look for help when you come up for re-election. And don't look for any special favors when it comes tosupporting a bill you need passed. Obama's not a vindictive man, but Emanuel sure is.

Posted by: gbooksdc | February 13, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

"President Obama a win on the first major plank of his agenda but without the bipartisan support he so dearly sought."

Yeah, this bipartisanship fetish amongst the Beltway Media is pretty amusing. Look, let me break it down for you: Obama doesn't give a toss about getting lots of happy bipartisan support for any of this stuff.

What he cares about--and what he *should* care about--is giving the *appearance* of having extended the olive branch. It's political kabuki, and Obama's played it perfectly.

The GOP comes across as obstructionist, Obama comes across as a team player, all while getting *exactly* the bill that he initially proposed.

Meanwhile, the Broders of the world are left to ruminate on just how sad Obama must be that he didn't get 80 Senate votes.

Did you guys (WaPo political reporters) fall off the turnip truck yesterday? Or do you think this is all pretty silly?

Posted by: icoleman | February 13, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Yes, like partisan lemmings, the Republicans "held firm". No Mr. Smith among them--not one.

The financial crisis is no matter--party unity is all! "Country First" is revealed to be nothing but jingoistic, campaign rhetoric; and the truth that, for each sitting Republican Congressman, preserving their precious seat, at any cost, is all that matters.

Really?? Who knew?

Posted by: dwatkins1 | February 13, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Don't ya just hate conservatives. Eight years of their wrecking our economy, and when the effort comes to begin to undo the damage they have done, not one is supportive. Go directly to purgatory, every one of you in the House! Indeterminate sentence. Chalk a very big one up to President Obama and Democrats!

Posted by: dudh | February 13, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

The republicans are willing to risk further damage to my country by their little game, which is to try to deny Obama and keep their fingers crossed Obama fails.

Once a republican, always a republican. I say let's just forget about "bipartisanship" for now and ram our agenda down the republican creeps' throats. Then we'll see how bold the republicans are feeling as our economy begins to recover.

Posted by: binkynh | February 13, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

all rep voted no. they would all stain their pants if their handlers didnt lead them the potty.not a one of them has ever had an original thougth .a very costly and inefficent group of yes men.

Posted by: donaldtucker | February 13, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

The republicans are zeroes. The next eight years are going to be very dismal for them.
American Talilban? Who cares?

Posted by: TOMHERE | February 13, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

So Arlen Spector says that there were many Republicans who secretly supported the bill, they just didn't want to vote for it because they were afraid of GOP primary backlash. Now, isn't that a pretty picture. The country is in a tailspin, and the GOP is afraid of the bullies in their party. I hope they all lose reelection. They deserve it. They are cowards.

Posted by: goldie2 | February 13, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

So Arlen Spector says that there were many Republicans who secretly supported the bill, they just didn't want to vote for it because they were afraid of GOP primary backlash. Now, isn't that a pretty picture. The country is in a tailspin, and the GOP is afraid of the bullies in their party. I hope they all lose reelection. They deserve it. They are cowards.

Posted by: goldie2 | February 13, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

GOP "holds firm?" Yeah, just as David Koresh held firm in Waco, Texas. The radical right-wing Republicans fall all over themselves lavishing money on their "elite" corporate masters, but when it comes to us average, middle-class Americans, FERGIT IT. They're willing to let our country go down the tubes and sink into another Depression rather than betray what they laughingly refer to as their "core principles," which apparently say to do nothing whatsoever when our country and its citizens are in trouble. What a disgusting display. Perhaps President Obama now realizes what he's dealing with and won't water down future legislation trying to please these petty, partisan obstructionists.

Posted by: ejs2 | February 13, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

It's funny, during the 6 years that the Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the Presidency, they couldn't be unanimous on anything, but to be opposed without a counterproposal, that's easy for them to do!

Posted by: abcs86 | February 13, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Like other posters, putting it their own way, it probably is a good thing that the GOP is refusing to work with the President. In the final analysis, it is we Democrats who are going to be judged on legislation being passed. And we should pass what we want while we have the power. I just hope Obama has now steeled himself against Republican and their flunkies on talk radio.

Posted by: sperrico | February 13, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans will vote against anything that's not a tax break for the rich. Look at last 8 years and what they did then when they had control of government. Voted Republican all my life till W showed up, will never under any circumstances for for any Republican again. Our cou8ntry can't afford the damage they do.

Posted by: ellerd | February 13, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

I saw a cartoon by someone named Toles. It showed President Obama shooting a basket from the middle of the court, while in front of him stood 5 Republican elephants with their front legs raised to block Obama's shot. And the caption was "Hey, this isn't bipartisanship!" The Republicans don't want bipartisanship - they WANT Obama to fail so they can say "I told you so." Why didn't they block any of Bush's spending requests, which landed us several trillion dollars in debt? I used to be a Republican, back in the days when Republicans were responsible people. Now I'm an Independent - because at least the Independents are willing to give Obama a chance to prove himself before they do everything in their power to make sure he fails.

Posted by: Kaelinda1 | February 13, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

This is a non-partisian rant... It is a little too stepford wives for my taste when 100% of the Republicans in the House and 100% of the Democrats in the Senate vote the party line. It is slightly more understandable when every last vote is needed in the Senate and party discipline is put on the line. In the House it is pure symbolism, with no consequence.

Posted by: merrylees | February 13, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Let the GOP keep acting like they are. President Obama is not the one who is seen as being obstinant. Let them keep doing the way they want. Election time their obstinance will by them in the butt.

Posted by: bjlopez1130 | February 13, 2009 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Today there was a story in the news about Dennis Blair, the new director of all our National Security, testifying before Congress about the fact that our economic situation is the "top threat" to our national security.
There was also a news report in the Financial Times about how Republicans maneuvered to make sure that our recession/depression continues.
So, here we are: a major political party is working to undermine our national security.
What IS the definition of treason? Working to undermine the national security of one's country? Just wondering.

Posted by: cms1 | February 13, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

The only thing this "stimulus package" is going to do is hasten the day the Dollar becomes a Peso eqivalent. We're headed there in any event, so I guess there's not much to get worked up about. Stimulus, LOL.

It will also hasten the return of Republican power, I suspect. I hope the demos at least get a couple of supreme court nominations in before that happens.

Posted by: cletus1 | February 13, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

The Republican mantra --- divide and conquer --- once more! The thing that makes me really angry is that we allowed those three Republicans to dictate terms on such an important bill and then the rest of their team behaved so badly. The arrogance!
Mama taught me, "If you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all." and life taught me, "If you aren't part of the solution, you are part of the problem."
Our country -- the world -- is in a terrible economic position. The world is waiting to see what we will do -- and we are embarassing ourselves by playing these ugly, divisive, political games -- in full view of both allies and enemies. We should be ashamed --- and I am.

Posted by: america121 | February 13, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

What does Repulican want ??? Can somebody expalin it to me.

Posted by: smart_sha | February 13, 2009 9:09 PM | Report abuse

I am a Republican but I support this bill. I also supported Obama this past election. Unlike GWB's giveaway, almost all of the money in this bill provides government agencies with money that they will use to hire contractors to do work. Those contractors will pay corporate taxes. Their employees with federal, state, and local taxes. Now THAT is trickle down economics.

GWB's $700 billion was a straight corporate gift. not to mention 2003's advance child tax credit and 2008's economic stimulus packages.

Where was the great republican opposition then? Where were the fiscally conservative principled votes then?

Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU | February 13, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

(R) Shock youngest, a 27 yr old freshman say's and quote..."What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself."

Shock, taking this quote from a previous occupant of his House seat...Abraham Lincoln.

You go green horn...dive right in there... into that empty pool.

Billy Bob Thornton..."he said call for a ambulance or a hearse"

Posted by: opp88 | February 14, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

IF THEY KNEW...THEY WOULD BE DANGEROUS!
______________________________________

What does Repulican want ??? Can somebody expalin it to me.


Posted by: smart_sha | February 13, 2009 9:09 PM

Posted by: opp88 | February 14, 2009 9:58 PM | Report abuse

This just goes to show that the Republicans aren't really needed to pass anything. Dems can always buy off 2 or 3 in the Senate. How many voters did not vote for Obama? Those voters were poorly represented before, and now-they aren't represented at all.

Posted by: rjjrdq | February 15, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

The Borgen Project has some good info on the cost of addressing global poverty.

$30 billion: Annual shortfall to end world hunger.
$550 billion: U.S. Defense budget

Posted by: atsegga | February 17, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

The Borgen Project has some good info on the cost of addressing global poverty.

$30 billion: Annual shortfall to end world hunger.
$550 billion: U.S. Defense budget

Posted by: atsegga | February 17, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

That is okey repubs because you just got a good lesson on what us voters think of tax cuts for the elite. Well you didn't vote because the voters get a slice of of this pie and not just the bankers and insurance companies. Steal all you can because your term is ending.

Posted by: SWAMPYPD | February 17, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

People talk about FDR's First Hundred Days. Now, in his first 30 days, President Obama has enacted a landmark piece of economic and social legislation which will save the USA from potential financial disaster, and rejuvenate our nation into providing a brighter and better future for all Americans. This is is a huge triumph for Obama, which will also continue to relegate the nay-saying, obstructionist Republican Party deeper into the political wilderness. The GOP is hurling itself into Limbaugh Limbo.

Please visit my Blog: "Conservatives Are America's Real Terrorists"
http://conservativesarecommunistss.blogspot.com/

Posted by: cjprentiss | February 18, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

What hypocrites the GOP congressional members and their Far Right allies happen to be. Oh, sure, hanging tough on anything the Democrtas propose pleases the GOP's new kingpin, Rush Bigmouth Limbaugh, but it shows how out of touch and cowardly this GOP really is. When the Bushniks were spending trillions on Iraq and giving billions to its no-bid-on-contracts buddies, where was the GOP? Their silence as they say was deafening. A pox on all of them!

Posted by: GuinnessJ51 | February 18, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Who cares what Republicans do? Under their spend and reward only the weathly, America and the working middle class are in the worse economic downturn in history. I would be perfectly happy if there were no ill-informed, useless, visonless, arrogant Republicans in the Senate or the House of Representatives. Republicans have shown that they know nothing and will do nothing. They knew the economy was going downhill fast and they failed the American people. Every Republican should be brought up on charges of treason because they have betrayed the trust the American people had, but because of their arrogance, they just don't get it!

Posted by: alesterp | February 18, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I just can't wait until 2010. Out with more Limbaugh Republicans and bluedog Dems (Republicans masquerading as Dems). Yea! It is totally impossible to imagine how they can be so GUTLESS. America is sliding downhill (are they blind AND stupid?) and all they can think of is political grandstanding. When this stimulus is successful, they will claim it was their strategy in the plan that worked, even though they voted against the package. But, in 2010, we will not forget how this went down. Americans are finally paying attention, thanks to Pres Obama.

Posted by: mguill1045 | February 18, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

The Borgen Project has some good info on the cost of addressing global poverty.

$30 billion: Annual shortfall to end world hunger.
$550 billion: U.S. Defense budget

Posted by: atsegga | February 18, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I find it exciting to think of all the extra stimulus dollars that will be available when all those Republicans and blue dog Democrats, so devoted to their conservative principles, refuse to take their place at the trough. I can't wait, for that will surely be a stop the presses moment.

Posted by: lernerlaw | February 19, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

The Republicans are acting like children who lost a game. McCain is a sore loser and doesn't want anything Obama does to have any support from the GOP. Get real. This is a sure way to lose any future elections Republicans. If you agree with Obama do not be afraid or you will go down with the rest of the scared RLepublican men. Afraid to show any bipartisanship because of bully's in their own party.

Posted by: barryaudrey | February 19, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

So what if just about every Republican and a few "Blue Dog" Democrats voted "No" on this "Pork-Laden" Stimulus Bill. Because thats what it is exactly what it is, nothing but pork, pork, and even more pork. No matter how you slice it. A lot of what has happened with the economy has been festering for a long time. For example, the housing disaster, back in the late 1970's or early 1980's the Democrat-controlled House and Senate passed the "Community Reinvestment Act" bill under Democrat Jimmy Carter and further enforced by Democrat Bill Clinton that forced banks to "KNOWINGLY" give home loans to people they "KNEW" could not afford the home loan. Don't get me wrong, but I believe EVERYBODY should be able to own their own home. What do you all think is going to happen when suddenly millions of people see their mortgage rate increase some much that they can now longer afford the monthly payments? I rest my case. Who to thank for this big mess--the Democrats. Now back to the stimulus, I do not agree with it or any of the bailouts period. I guess none of you won't mind that we now have Chicago-thug politics in the White House now, and that sometime in the near future we will see be seeing big tax increases to pay for everything that our new president wants to do.

Posted by: redrum72 | February 19, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Can anyone of you BRILLIANT INFORMED REPORTERS answer this question? What was the ‘Administration-wide effort to bring new tools and resources to would-be homeowners…’ after June 13, 2003?

National Homeownership Month, 2003
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 13, 2003
By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

Homeownership is more than just a symbol of the American Dream; …

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is leading an Administration-wide effort to bring new tools and resources to would-be homeowners.

What were these NEW TOOLS AND RESOURCES?
LED by the ADMINISTRATION in 2003?

Posted by: sasha2008 | February 20, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Rush Limbaugh and his Rat-Pack of Right-Wing Media Hyenas are now fulminating about Obama's new Foreclosure Assistance Bill which they say will help the "Losers" in our society. Homeowners who are now in default on their mortgages are America's "Losers", and do not deserve any assistance from taxpayers. This is Rush's idea of Dog-Eat-Dog, Winner-Take-All, Losers-Be- Damned Capitalism. The fact that Rush's plan would fill our streets and shelters with thousands more homeless families, and leave banks holding empty worthless homes with no payments being made to the banks at all doesn't seem to matter. Rush has an Ayn Rand "Fountainhead" ideology to defend, and he will defend that Far Right Extremist ideology to America's last dying breath. Well, in case Rush hasn't noticed, "Losers" are what the Republicans were in 2006 and, even more so, in 2008. By 2010 and 2012, Obama and the Democrats will own the Stimulus Bill and the Homeowners Assistance Bill, both of which will probably have proven very successful by then. The Republicans will own the title of Obstructionist Destructionists, in light of their fierce opposition to these recovery programs. And, by that time, the GOP and the Right-Wing will be the biggest Losers of all. If you think Republicans are Losers today, wait until 2012 -- "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet."

Please visit my Blog: "Conservatives Are America's Real Terrorists"
http://conservativesarecommunistss.blogspot.com/

Posted by: cjprentiss | February 20, 2009 11:33 PM | Report abuse

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