* Includes money for construction projects, aid to states
* Bank bailout fund would pay for $75 billion
* Follows on $787 billion stimulus bill
(Adds Obama comment, paragraphs 6-7)
By Andy Sullivan
WASHINGTON, Dec 16 The U.S. House of
Representatives on Wednesday narrowly approved a $155 billion
measure that seeks to create jobs and blunt the impact of the
worst recession since the 1930s.
By a vote of 217 to 212, the House approved additional
spending for "shovel-ready" construction projects and money to
avoid layoffs of teachers, police and other public employees.
No Republicans voted for the bill, and 38 Democrats voted
The Senate is expected to consider the measure early next
Leftover money from the government's $700 billion
bank-bailout fund would cover $75 billion of the bill's price
President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats hope to
bring down the 10 percent unemployment rate before the November
2010 congressional elections. Though the recession has eased
its grip, the economy is still shedding jobs and voter anxiety
Obama applauded the House bill's "productive ideas,"
including highway repair projects, relief for the jobless and a
brake on state and local layoffs.
"Some may think standing by and taking no action is the
right approach, but for the millions of Americans still out of
work, inaction is unacceptable," Obama said in a statement.
The bill reprises many approaches taken in the $787 billion
stimulus bill that Congress passed in February. Congressional
budget analysts say that effort has created up to 1.6 million
jobs and blunted the impact of the recession.
"We are on the road to recovery and we are there because
this Congress made some very important and difficult decisions
to take us there," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.
Republicans, who deride the first stimulus bill as a costly
boondoggle, said the newer effort would only drive the country
deeper into debt.
"This is nothing short of a taxpayer-funded Christmas
shopping tree financed by our friends, the Chinese," said
Representative Jerry Lewis, the top Republican on the House
MONEY FOR CONSTRUCTION, SCHOOLS
The bill would provide $48.3 billion for infrastructure
projects that promise to get workers back on job sites by
April. Highway construction projects would get $27.5 billion,
while subway, bus and other transit systems would get $8.4
As in the earlier stimulus bill, steel and other products
used in these projects would have to come from the United
The bill would also help cash-strapped state and local
governments avoid layoffs of public employees.
States would get $23 billion to pay 250,000 teacher
salaries and repair school buildings, and $1.2 billion to pay
for 5,500 police officers.
States would also get $23.5 billion to help pay their share
of federal healthcare programs for the poor.
The bill does not include two approaches backed by the
White House: increased lending for small business, and funds to
make buildings more energy-efficient, but Democrats say they
plan to take up additional job-creating measures next year.
The bill also extends unemployment benefits and healthcare
subsidies for the jobless for another six months, at a combined
cost of $53.3 billion.
Because the Senate is not expected to act until January,
the House included a two-month extension of the jobless
benefits in a must-pass military spending bill that could be
signed into law as soon as this weekend to ensure they do not
run out at the end of the year. [N1676836]
(Additional reporting by Ross Colvin and Deborah Zabarenko;
Editing by Eric Walsh)