By Tom Brune
January 29, 2009
WASHINGTON - For Long Island's four House Democrats, the $819-billion economic recovery package that they helped their party approve in Congress yesterday was a must-pass bill, its spending and tax cuts needed to get things moving again.
But the Island's lone House Republican, Rep. Peter King of Seaford, complained the bill had too much "extraneous spending" and not enough small-business tax cuts or infrastructure funding, so he joined every other Republican in voting against it.
The near party-line vote of 244-188 in the House undercut President Barack Obama's attempt to build hope for broad bipartisan support for a massive spending and tax-cut bill to kick-start an economy stalled in a deep recession.
The Senate is expected to vote on its version of the stimulus bill next week. Then Senate and House negotiators will resolve differences for a final bill.
"I think the Republicans have come to the conclusion that they're not going to be much help in this thing," said Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Roslyn Heights), who said Democrats had to pass the bill. "We've got to help to try to stimulate the economy."
Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), who said he fought for the $6 billion in the package for college construction and modernization, quoted economists as saying the greatest danger is to do too little, not too much.
In a release yesterday, the four Democrats highlighted what Bishop said was "the approximately $105 million that will flow to Long Island in the next two years in direct federal assistance to K-12 education."
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D- Mineola) said New York will be getting the biggest amount of any state in Medicaid funds, a significant help for the cash-strapped state government. "It's a big deal," she said.
She added she sponsored an amendment to allow some of the $20 billion in college and school modernization money to be used for emergency preparedness and safety features.
Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) did not return a phone call for comment.
King declined to be interviewed to explain his vote. In a statement, King said that there is much in the stimulus bill he supports but blamed tax and spend provisions for his no vote.
"I hope to be able to vote for an improved stimulus bill before Presidents Day."
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