U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) yesterday expressed strong support for the stimulus bill that passed the Senate Tuesday, saying it will send $7.9 billion to struggling Ohio families, Ohio infrastructure projects, and the cash-strapped state government.
Mr. Brown made his comments before a $789 billion conference bill deal was announced yesterday afternoon. A spokesman said Mr. Brown still wants the bill to move forward.
U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) also backed the bill, but with more reserve, saying it doesn't put enough people to work quickly or solve the home foreclosure crisis.
Republicans continued to attack the bill as creating too much debt and not enough employment.
"This bill will go a long way toward putting Americans back to work and our economy back on track," Mr. Brown said. "It includes critical infrastructure funds that provide immediate job creation while driving long-term economic development. It also creates a new generation of green jobs that will revive our nation's manufacturing base while reducing our dependence on foreign oil."
He rejected criticism of the $1.2 trillion debt associated with the bill, noting the support it had among business and manufacturing groups.
"The Chamber of Commerce wouldn't have endorsed it if they thought the debt was so crippling," he said. "The fact is the debt will grow dramatically if we do nothing."
Mr. Voinovich voted against the measure, when it was $838 billion, in the Senate Tuesday.
"Our nation is facing a catastrophic debt and this bill simply adds to that debt without fulfilling the well-accepted stimulus criteria that the funds be timely, targeted, and temporary," Mr. Voinovich said, who also spoke before the unveiling of the conference deal.
He said a better use of the money would be "shovel-ready" projects such as highways, sewers, and housing.
As described by Mr. Brown, the bill contains more than $1 billion for Ohio infrastructure: $280 million for water and sewer projects, $914 million for highway work, and $200 million for mass-transit development.
Mr. Brown wrote a letter to the conference committee chairmen urging reinstatement of the full $79 billion sought by states to help balance their budgets.
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said the removal of general aid targeted to cash-strapped states to preserve essential services would have a devastating effect in Ohio.
Miss Kaptur, who supported the House version of the stimulus bill, said it provides needed relief, such as unemployment insurance.
"People want to work and this bill doesn't do that," Miss Kaptur said. "The focus has to be on jobs - public service jobs, fixing up parks, zoos, roads, if only temporary."
A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green) said Mr. Latta opposed the bills that passed the House and the Senate because they contained too much pork, but said he looks forward to seeing the version that emerges from a conference committee.
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