Congress Passes $787 Billion Stimulus

(Update 1 reflects clarified estimates on job creation.) The sweeping $787 billion economic stimulus package passed both the House and Senate votes late Friday, setting President Barack Obama on the course to having enacted one of the largest — and most historic — spending package packages within the first weeks of having taken office. The bill, as expected, focuses heavily on government spending initiatives to stimulate job growth, as well as a handful of tax breaks, including an $8,000 tax credit to all first-time home buyers that purchase before year-end. The bill, expected on Obama’s desk within days of the votes, includes a $400 tax cut for individuals making less than $75,000 a year (in the form of reduced government withholding), billions of dollars in infrastructure programs and increased unemployment benefits. Obama has claimed the Democratic-rallied bill will save or create some 3.5 million jobs during the net few years, despite GOP criticism the spending initiatives don’t do enough to create jobs and the tax breaks are too minimal to make a difference. First-time home buyers will see a substantial break, however; those that purchase a home before the end of 2009 will be eligible to claim an $8,000 tax credit. The House vote occurred first Friday afternoon, with Democrats carrying the victory and no Republicans supporting the bill, which passed 246 to 183. Seven Democrats opposed the bill, with Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill., only answering “present” to the roll call and John Campbell, R-Calif., James Clyburn, D-S.C., and Chris Lee, R-N.Y. declining to vote altogether. Hours later, the bill also passed a Senate vote by 60 to 38, with Edward Kennedy D-Mass., not voting. Three Senate Republicans threw their support behind the bill: Susan Collins, R-Maine; Olympia Snowe, R-Maine; and Arlen Specter, R-Pa. Write to Diana Golobay at

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