WASHINGTON -- The House passed an $819 billion stimulus bill Wednesday evening by a 244-188 margin without a single Republican lawmaker voting for the landmark measure to jolt the economy and create new jobs.
The economic-recovery legislation, which could bring South Carolina at least $3.2 billion, now moves to the Senate, where it faces significant hurdles.
In their unanimous rejection of the stimulus plan, House Republicans ignored President Barack Obama's appeal for bipartisan support and rejected his first major legislative initiative.
Obama gave no hint of dismay over the Republican rebellion. He thanked the House for approving the measure and invited congressional leaders from both parties for cocktails.
"It will double our capacity to generate renewable energy," Obama said of the bill. "It will lower the cost of health care by billions and improve its quality. It will modernize thousands of classrooms and send more kids to college. And it will put billions of dollars in immediate tax relief into the pockets of working families."
As part of "unprecedented measures that will allow the American people to hold my administration accountable," Obama said his aides had set up a Web site -- www.recovery.gov -- where "every American will be able to see how and where we spend taxpayer dollars."
The measure would provide $550 billion in new federal spending and $275 billion in tax cuts, most of them aimed at low-income and middle-class families.
A new analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office put its net price tag at $816 billion, and the House added $3 billion in more public transit funds, bringing it to $819.
Eleven Democrats, most of them members of the "Blue Dog" faction of fiscal conservatives, voted against the measure to fund road repairs, school construction, alternative energy investment, public housing and mass transit.
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of Columbia and House Budget Committee chairman John Spratt voted for the stimulus. Reps. Joe Wilson, Henry Brown, Gresham Barrett and Bob Inglis opposed it.
In floor debate before the vote, Clyburn said a record 210,000 South Carolinians have lost their jobs, producing a 9.5 percent unemployment rate, the nation's third-highest.
"Our package is balanced," Clyburn said. "It has middle-class tax cuts. It has business tax cuts. It has investments in our physical infrastructure. It is the right mix of spending and tax breaks to get America working again."
Barrett helps lead revolt
Barrett, of Westminister, helped lead the Republican revolt against the measure.
"Without a doubt, the American people are suffering," Barrett told his colleagues. "Unfortunately, rather than focusing on job-creating measures like infrastructure improvement and tax cuts, the Democrats have put forth legislation with billions in unwarranted and unrelated spending."
In Columbia, S.C. Democratic Party chairwoman Carol Fowler chided Barrett and the state's three other House Republicans for having voted against the measure.
"These representatives need to consider the harm that widespread unemployment, bankruptcies and foreclosures are causing to thousands of families across South Carolina," Fowler said. "Our citizens are among the hardest-working in the nation, and deserve all the help they can get."
The stimulus bill provides about $33 billion for building and repairing roads and bridges, with South Carolina slated to get almost $480 million.
The recovery plan would save or create 37,200 jobs in South Carolina, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody's Economy.com and a former adviser to Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign.
If the Senate passes its significantly different stimulus measure, that bill would be reconciled with the House legislation by a conference committee of members from both chambers.
The House and the Senate would then vote on the package again. Obama has urged Congress to send him a measure to sign into law by mid-February.
David Obey, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, ridiculed Republicans for opposing the House bill. He compared them to President Herbert Hoover, the Republican who was in the White House during the first years of the Great Depression.
"What year is this?" Obey asked on the House floor. "I didn't think it was 1933. I thought it was 2009. All I would say is -- they don't look like Herbert Hoover, but there are an awful lot of people in this chamber who, I guess, think like Herbert Hoover."
The stimulus bill passed by the House would bring South Carolina $3.2 billion in additional federal funds over the next decade, with more than three-quarters of it arriving by Sept. 30, 2011:
State budget deficit offset/fiscal stabilization -- $905.09 million
Highways/Bridges construction/repair: $479.86 million
Food Stamps --$389.2 million
Pell Grants (college) -- $349.59 million
School construction/modernization (K-12) -- $208.72 million
Education/Disabled students -- $200.79 million
Poor school districts-- $191.31 million
College/University construction/modernization -- $82.7 million
Employment services/Job training -- $65.98 million
Social Security for elderly/disabled -- $60.3 million
Water-treatment plants/sewers/pipelines -- $59.47 million
Law-enforcement grants -- $57.15 million
Child-care and development grants -- $36.32 million
Public-transit systems -- $34.19 million
Homeless shelters -- $15.9 million
Community services block grant -- $15.36 million
Education technology grants -- $13.82 million
Head Start program -- $9.92 million
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance program -- $6.64 million
Preventative health/health services grant -- $3.83 million
Elderly nutrition services -- $3.11 million
South Carolinians would get an estimated $3.1 billion in tax cuts over the next decade, including $244 million for poorer South Carolinians through expanded tax credits for children.
-- Sources: House Appropriations Committee; Congressional Budget Office