Iowans split on party lines over jobs bill

The House of Representatives approved the Jobs for Main Street Act yesterday by a vote of 217 to 212. No Republicans supported the bill; the nay votes included 38 Democrats and 174 Republicans (roll call here). Iowa Democrats Bruce Braley, Dave Loebsack and Leonard Boswell all voted for the bill, while Republicans Tom Latham and Steve King voted with the rest of their caucus. (This year has been a refreshing change from 2005-2007, when Boswell was often among 30-some House Democrats voting with Republicans on the issue of the day.)

More details are after the jump.

According to this report in The Hill, most of the reluctant Democrats were concerned about increased spending in light of the large federal deficit. The bill passed only after retiring Democrat Brian Baird (WA-03) “changed his vote to put Democrats over the top.”

The bill uses approximately $174 billion that was allocated to the bailout (TARP) program last year, which has been returned. President Obama recently endorsed the idea of using returned TARP funds for a jobs bill.

A DCCC press release summarized the main points of the bill (HR 2847):

·        $48 billion to rebuild crumbling roads and bridges, modernize public buildings, renovate schools, and clean our water and air.

·        $27 billion to help states save or create jobs for teachers, hire more law enforcement officers, and hire and retain firefighters. This includes hiring and training programs to support Americorps volunteers, youth summer jobs, and job training for people in high growth industries including health care and clean energy.

The measure helps America ‘s small businesses and creates jobs by extending several Recovery Act initiatives, including:

·        Eliminating fees on Small Business Administration (SBA) loans.

·        Raising the portion of a loan that the SBA will guarantee to 90 percent (from 85 percent) to encourage banks to lend to small businesses.

The measure also provides $79 billion to help families hardest hit by the recession through extending unemployment and COBRA benefits, protecting health coverage for millions through Medicaid (FMAP), continuing the child tax credit, and adjusting the poverty guidelines so people don’t lose benefits.

A statement from Braley’s office hailed the fact that yesterday’s jobs bill included “strong Buy America language”:

The Buy America language included in the Jobs for Main Street Act ensures that American made materials must be used for construction, alteration, maintenance or repair of transportation and infrastructure projects funded in the bill. These materials include American-made steel, iron and manufactured goods.

I frankly find it bizarre that several dozen House Democrats claim to think the deficit is a bigger political problem than rising unemployment rates. When the House votes on further funding for the war in Afghanistan, I don’t expect many of those 38 Democrats to be as concerned about deficit spending.

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