US House passes stimulus package

Barack Obama wins first legislative victory as $819bn bill is passed.

    More than a million jobs have been cut in the US in the past year [GALLO/GETTY]
     

    "I hope that we can continue to strengthen this plan before it gets to my desk," Obama said in a statement after the bill was passed.

    In depth
    "But what we can't do is drag our feet or allow the same partisan differences to get in our way.

    "We must move swiftly and boldly to put Americans back to work, and that is exactly what this plan begins to do."

    Obama has said he hopes to sign the measure into law by the middle of February.

    Republican concerns

    The US economy has been badly battered by the sub-prime mortgage crisis, tight credit conditions and a slumping global economy, with companies cutting more than a million jobs in the past year.

    Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the house, said Obama's move for a bold and swift action "is exactly what we are taking today".

    Harry Reid, the US senate majority leader, said he would seek for a debate on Monday with the aim of completing the action "as quickly as we can".

    Earlier Rob Reynolds, Al Jazeera's senior Washington correspondent, said Obama would have wanted bipartisan support in order to share both the glory and the responsibility.

    But every Republican legislator on Wednesday voted against the bill, amid concerns that the package included too little in tax cuts at $275bn and too much in spending at $550bn.

    Democrats had rejected Republican efforts to cut out the new spending, which includes money to rebuild crumbling roads and bridges and upgrade healthcare and schools.

    The Republicans had instead wanted a package essentially restricted to about $478bn in tax cuts.
    John Boehner, the House Republican leader, said his party's approach would create an estimated 6.2 million jobs.

    "That's twice as many as the [Democratic] bill that is on the [House] floor now for about half the price," Boehner said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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