House passes stimulus, adds whistleblower protection


The House voted 244-188 Wednesday evening to pass the economic stimulus package, setting up a Senate vote in the coming days.

The $819 billion bill, HR 1, includes $523 billion in spending and $275 billion in tax cuts, which Democrats said will spur economic growth and create American jobs.

The House approved six amendments to the bill, several of which affect federal employees:

  • The bill now includes a provision strengthening whistleblower protections for federal employees, which had been missing from the original bill. The bill specified protections for state and local workers but did not mention federal employees. The whistleblower protections come from the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, which passed the House, but not the Senate, in the last Congress. The amendment was introduced by Reps. Todd Platts, R-Pa., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.
  • A requirement that the Department of Homeland Security purchase American-made uniforms for employees. Sponsor Rep. Larry Kissel, D-N.C., a former textile worker, said on the floor this provision would bolster local manufacturing.
  • A requirement that contain links and information on jobs created at or by entities receiving stimulus funding, including links to local employment agencies, state and local public agencies, and private contractors who have received stimulus-funded contracts. Offered by Rep. Harry Teague, D-N.M.
  • Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James Oberstar, D-Minn., introduced a “use it or lose it” provision requiring that 50 percent of the funds for highway, aviation, transit and rail projects be obligated within 90 days.
  • Highway maintenance money in the stimulus bill can’t replace existing state funding, introduced by Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa. That’s to make sure the stimulus money creates new jobs and spending instead of merely replacing planned spending.
  • The bill now includes an additional $3 billion for transit spending, thanks to an amendment by Rep. Jarrold Nadler, D-N.Y. Total transit spending in the bill is now $12 billion.

Republicans were markedly less enthusiastic about the stimulus bill, proposing a substitute amendment focused on tax cuts equaling $487.7 billion over 10 years. The substitute amendment, which would have included a repeal of the 3 percent tax withholding requirement for federal contractors, would have been a more effective means of reviving the economy, Rep. Mike Pence said earlier Wednesday.

That measure failed 170-266 with even a few Republicans voting no.


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