Washington, D.C. – In a swift victory for President Barack Obama, the Democratic-controlled House approved a historically huge $819 billion stimulus bill Wednesday night, filled with new spending and tax cuts at the core of the young administration’s revival plan for the desperately ailing economy. The vote was 244-188.
“We don’t have a moment to spare,” Obama declared at the White House as congressional allies hastened to do his bidding in the face of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
The vote sent the bill to the Senate, where debate is expected to begin as early as this week on a companion measure already taking shape. Democratic leaders have pledged to have legislation ready for Obama’s signature by mid-February.
The education sector was expected to be one of the major beneficiaries of the multi-billion dollar package, according to media reports.
Under the proposal, $150 billion will be allocated to school districts, child care centers and university campuses which would more than double the present budget of the Department of Education.
It will include school renovation, special education and grants to poor college students which would be the largest hike in federal assistance to the education sector since after World War II. Even prior to the approval of the economic stimulus plan, the U.S. Congress approved in early January the release of $79 billion to help financially hemorrhaging states keep up with government services and avoid deeper cuts to education programs across the country.
The House vote came after days of intense lobbying by the new president, including personal appeals to congressional Republicans. GOP lawmakers spurned Obama, saying the bill contains too much spending and not enough tax cuts.
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