What Iowa’s congressional delegation said about stimulus

Iowa's congressional delegation issued prepared statements on Friday about the federal economic stimulus package which cleared congress, in final form, and is to be signed into law tomorrow by President Obama.   All are copied below.  Senators Harkin and Grassley have lengthy, detailed statements, followed by shorter statements from the congressmen.  Democrats Harkin, Braley, Boswell and Loebsack voted for the package; Republicans Grassley, King and Latham voted against it. 

Economic recovery package begins a new era of transformational change in our economy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) released the following statement today in anticipation of Senate passage of the economic recovery package.  The measure was passed by the House earlier today and after passage in the Senate will be delivered to President Obama for his signature.

“We are in the grips of a destructive recession that has shaken people’s confidence in America’s economic system.  People are hurting.  Millions have lost their jobs, retirement savings and access to health care. It took many years of flawed policies and reckless behaviors to get us into the current economic mess and recovery will not happen overnight.

“Congress needed to act urgently and we did just that. While this package is not perfect, it will help stop the bleeding and put Americans back to work.

“The economic recovery package that Congress is expected to pass today will chart a new course for America.  It will invest in our most important natural resource – our people.   It begins a new era of transformational change in our economy – one that will give us true 21st century health care system emphasizing information technology, prevention and wellness, an energy system based increasingly on clean, renewable, domestically produced electricity and fuels, an education system that begins with world-class early childhood education and ends with giving every American access to higher education and advanced training.”

Among the national highlights of the conference report:

• $19 billion to ensure widespread adoption and use of interoperable health information technology, something that will reduce medical errors, save countless lives, and cut health care costs.
• $10 billion for advanced biomedical research and to improve facilities at the National Institutes of Health.
• $1 billion to begin the transition from our current sick care system to a genuine health care system, one that emphasizes wellness and prevention.
• $39.5 billion for local school districts for school modernization, to prevent layoffs, and to reward schools that improve student performance.
• $13 billion for Title I programs.
• $12.2 billion for special education.
• $15.6 billion to increase the maximum Pell Grant by $500.
• $11 billion to begin upgrading the nation’s electricity grid so that it can accommodate a rapid expansion in the production of wind and solar power.
• $7.2 billion to extend broadband Internet services into unserved and underserved areas of America, especially rural America.
• $19 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to help families obtain food.
• $2.76 billion to support local law enforcement.
• $4.6 billion for the Core of Engineers.
• $16.8 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.
• $27.5 billion for highway and bridge funding.
• $13 billion for housing programs.


TO:      Reporters and Editors

RE:      Final vote on H.R. 1, the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

            Senator Chuck Grassley issued the comment below regarding his vote late today against the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  Three Senate Republicans voted for the bill.  Seven Democratic members of the House of Representatives voted against the bill.  The latest cost estimate of the proposal from the Congressional Budget Office is $787 billion.  With interest costs added, the bill will easily increase deficit spending by $1 trillion.

Senator Grassley’s comment:

“The country urgently needs Congress to eliminate the tax and regulatory barriers that get in the way of creating sustainable jobs, and to help get our economy back on track.  That great need makes this bill a terrible missed opportunity.  The whole thing got off on the wrong foot.  Instead of charting the kind of new way promised by the new President, House leaders started the legislative process with a partisan bill that they loaded down with spending to feed special interests rather than stimulate the economy.  Changes made at the very end of the process, in order to peel off the three votes needed to get the bill through the Senate, weren’t enough to change the fundamental flaws.

“The bill ignores opportunities to create jobs by opening new markets for American exports.  Less than one-half of one percent of the bill passed today is for tax relief for small businesses, which create 70 percent of the new jobs in our economy, and created all of the net new jobs in 2006.  Less than half of the mandatory spending in this bill will go out the door in the first two years, failing to provide the kind of jolt needed for an economic revival.  The official scorekeeper for Congress, the Congressional Budget Office, says the bill spends as much as $270,000 for every temporary job it creates.  Imagine how many jobs could be created if the legislation was focused on meaningful economic growth rather than special-interest spending.  On top of those things, the final version of this bill dropped some important provisions providing expanded protections for federal government whistleblowers.  The final package includes an oversight board which sounds good in name, but in reality has been given the authority to stand in the way of investigations by independent inspectors general, who are the watchdogs within the federal bureaucracy, into allegations of waste, fraud and abuse of the tax dollars at stake in this massive bill and potentially beyond.

“It’s not too late to write the kind of clean economic growth bill the American people want and need, and to hold the federal bureaucracy accountable along the way.  I support infrastructure spending outside the appropriations process if it gets out the door during the next two years.  Otherwise, regular order should be used to try to make that spending as responsible as it can be.  I want to help create as many jobs as possible and get our economy moving again.  Failure to pass a good bill only will make it more difficult to pay back the $1 trillion Congress is borrowing against the future with this legislation.”

Information about Senator Grassley’s work on the legislation:

During debate, Senator Grassley sought to improve the legislation with common sense amendments to:

v  create more jobs in renewable wind energy,

v  protect college students from state tuition increases with the massive transfer of federal dollars to states,

v  empower parents with college savings in tax-preferred 529 plans to protect those investments from market downturns,

v  protect Medicaid dollars from waste, fraud and abuse; protect Medicaid beneficiaries and providers from cuts in eligibility and payment rates,

v  make college more affordable through the tax code,

v  secure tax relief to encourage small business investment,

v  allow charities to reimburse volunteers at higher mileage rates than currently allowed,

v  require states to pay the non-profits with whom they’ve contracted to provide services before being able to receive increased federal funds in the stimulus package,

v  freeze some of the $1.6 billion going to the National Science Foundation as part of this bill until the agency demonstrates that it can prevent on-the-job use of agency computers to view pornography, which Grassley discovered buried an agency report

v  require the National Institutes of Health to enforce requirements for disclosing financial ties between research doctors and drug companies as part of the $10 billion going to the agency as part of the economic stimulus bill,

v  and strengthen congressional oversight of the federal bureaucracy that will spend much of the $787 billion.

Bill managers refused to let any of these amendments be considered.

During floor negotiations, bill managers adopted a reform included in another Grassley amendment to limit high-income individuals, including Wall Street executives, from receiving taxpayer funded health insurance subsidies in order to make sure the maximum assistance was available for unemployed workers struggling to pay for COBRA benefits.  Bill managers also adopted comprehensive reform of trade adjustment assistance programs that Senator Grassley negotiated with members of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees.

A Grassley amendment that was brought up would have fixed the bill’s unfairly biased formula for distributing extra federal dollars for state-administered Medicaid programs in Iowa and 33 other states.  It was defeated by the Democratic leadership on a near-party line vote.  As a result, Iowa will receive $185 million less (or 33 percent) in Medicaid dollars.

During Senate consideration of the bill, senators accepted a bipartisan Grassley amendment to require companies participating in the Troubled Asset Relief Program (the rescue program for the nation’s financial system) to follow the strict hiring guidelines required of H-1B dependent companies so American workers are given first priority.  Grassley said significant fraud has been found in the H-1B program and his reform effort seeks to protect the integrity of the program for both American and foreign guest workers.

Separately, a Grassley amendment to protect middle-income families from an average tax increase of $2,000 on top of what they will already owe won Finance Committee support and was included in the stimulus bill before it came to the Senate floor.  If President Clinton hadn’t vetoed Republican-passed legislation to eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) all together, 124,000 Iowa families and millions nationwide wouldn’t be facing this tax increase today.  By acting at the beginning of the calendar year to enact an AMT patch for tax year 2009, Senator Grassley said Congress can make the tax administration system work as well as possible and also avoid having the AMT patch be held hostage to rushed, year-end, big-spending legislation as it has been for both of the last two years.  The AMT went on the books in 1969, in response to the discovery that 155 wealthy taxpayers were able to eliminate their entire tax liabilities through legal means.  But Congress didn’t index the AMT’s rates and exemptions for inflation.  As a result, growing numbers of middle-income taxpayers are getting hit with a tax they were never intended to pay.

King Opposes Bill Stimulating Government, Pork-Barrel Projects
Says “Congress should take action, but it must be the right kind of action”

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Steve King today made the following statement after voting against a massive economic “stimulus” spending bill pushed through the House by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The House voted on the 1,073 page, $789 billion bill Friday afternoon after the legislation was posted online for the first time at 10:45 p.m. Thursday night. Debate began on the legislation at 9:28 a.m. Friday morning.
    “Today liberals in Congress saddled our grandchildren with staggering debt and made America less able to grow out of a crisis. This massive grab-bag of taxpayer-funded subsidies, pet projects and added bureaucracy will prolong our economic turmoil and delay our recovery.
    “From blue- to white-collar employees, from farmers to small-business owners, everyone is affected by these tough times. Congress should take action, but it must be the right kind of action. Our economy will not recover because government spends more. It will recover because people produce more.
    “True market-based, economic recovery legislation would include capital gains tax elimination and more tax relief for small business owners and tax-paying families. Growing government as a means to stimulate the economy delays our recovery.”


– This bill combined with other recent government bailouts, commitments and spending to address our financial crisis would total around $9.7 trillion. Bloomberg.com reports this is enough money to pay off more than 90 percent of Americans' home mortgages.

– Economists say the Pelosi stimulus plan won’t actually stimulate the economy: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/story/62082.html

Braley Supports Recovery Act that will Create 37,000 Iowa Jobs
Bill includes Braley amendment to boost biofuels technology

Washington, DC – Today Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (HR 1), a bill that will save or create 37,000 jobs in Iowa and 6,600 jobs in the First Congressional District.  The bill passed the House 246-183-1. 

The bill also includes an amendment authored by Braley that would help create new renewable energy jobs in Iowa by making biofuels producers eligible for a $500 million low-interest loan program for investment in the latest production technology. 

“It’s very straightforward: the Recovery Act will create jobs in Iowa and cut taxes for Iowa families,” Braley said.  “While the bill isn’t perfect, it will have an immediate positive impact on Iowans by creating an estimated 37,000 jobs in our state and setting our nation on the right path to economic growth. 

“I’m also happy that this bill includes an amendment I wrote to allow biofuels makers access to a $500 million loan program to invest in new manufacturing technology.  When businesses can invest in the latest technology, they become more competitive, expand, and create jobs.”

For more information on Braley’s biofuels amendment, see: http://tinyurl.com/dg64bq


“The bottom line regarding the stimulus package is simple: will we take action to create jobs and make investments necessary to move our economy forward, or will we sit on the sidelines and just hope for the best?  I choose action.  I choose creating an estimated 37,000 jobs in the state of Iowa.  I choose investing in alternative clean energy that will benefit our state’s economy.  I choose rebuilding our schools.  I choose ensuring more Iowans have access to healthcare.  I choose rebuilding our roads and bridges, our schools, our rail and transit systems, and our environmental infrastructure.  Although I am concerned with the cost of the overall package and what huge deficits our children and grandchildren will be facing, I still maintain that we cannot just sit on the sidelines and do nothing.”  


Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement today on passage President Obama’s economic recovery package:

“Iowans today are struggling to make ends meet. When hard-working families are worried about their jobs and worried about their future, we must take action. Today I voted for President Obama’s recovery package. The American Recovery and Reinvestment package contains $282 billion in tax cuts over two years, with 95% of American families receiving tax cuts. These tax cuts will help the families of the second district, spur investment and create job growth for American businesses. Additionally, the bill will bring 37,000 jobs to Iowa, and 7,000 in the district.

“Education is the cornerstone of building our economy. By investing in our students, we reap unending benefits. It is through greater investment in education, infrastructure, and science and technology that we can get our economy moving while promoting long term economic growth.
Investments to make college more affordable will aid our students and their families, and I look forward to discussing these increases with students back in the district.

“While I am pleased by the increased funds for local school districts, I am troubled that already cash strapped local officials will have to make competing choices. Decisions such as choosing between modernizing a school facility or decreasing class size are difficult to make, and I regret that we were not able allocate more funds. Our local officials shouldn’t have to make tough decisions when it comes to our children. I will continue to work to provide additional funds to improve our schools, and make  upgrades using green technology, creating  new jobs and helping to  improve student health, learning ability, and productivity through passage of the 21st Century Green High-Performing Schools Act which I helped author.

“While no one piece of legislation can serve as a cure-all, Americans are facing a vast economic crisis, with effects that are long reaching. With Iowans across the district struggling, inaction is not an option. The recovery package is just one step in an ongoing process to rebuild our economy and strengthen our nation. I look forward to continuing to fight for Iowans, and working to make sure that the voices of the second district are heard.”

Congressman Tom Latham's Statement
Opposing Trillion-Dollar “Stimulus” Bill 
WASHINGTON, DC — The following are the remarks of Congressman Tom Latham during debate of Economic Stimulus Measure considered by the U.S. House of Representatives today.                        
    “I want folks to step back from this debate for just a second here.  You know, at the end of last year we spent over $700 Billion on the Wall Street Bailout.  Who knows if that has had any positive effect?  No one knows for sure.  Just this past Tuesday, the Secretary of the Treasury said we will need to spend another $2 Trillion for the next financial industry bailout.  Today, we are going to spend $790 billion.  This means with interest today’s bill will spend over $1 Trillion.  In another couple of weeks we will be looking at spending $400 billion on an omnibus spending bill.  And soon after that there will be another war supplemental.  Let’s add that up.  We are talking about spending $4 trillion by Congress in less than three months time.
    This is the most selfish bill I have ever seen generationally.  Today we are saying to our children and grandchildren: “We don’t care about you or your future because we just want self-gratification now.  We want to feel better today.  We can’t take any pain ourselves or truly work together to find a better way to address this crisis.”
    Our kids and grandchildren are going to be the ones who end up paying for this and it will no doubt limit their opportunities.  For their sakes, I ask that you vote no on this bill today.  Let’s work together for better and quicker solutions that help everyone without hurting future generations.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. I like what Cong. Loebsack said, specifically this line: “While no one piece of legislation can serve as a cure-all, Americans are facing a vast economic crisis, with effects that are long reaching. With Iowans across the district struggling, inaction is not an option.” It pretty much sums up everything people need to know before they start to “not act” in protest.