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Union Members Join With House Leaders in Support of Economic Stimulus Bill

January 29, 2009

Union members stood with House Democrats yesterday on Capitol Hill to highlight the need for good paying jobs and financial accountability on the eve of the House of Representatives’ vote on President Barack Obama’s nearly $820 billion spending and tax-cut bill.

“When the economy slows down, the construction industry feels it,” said Washington, D.C., Local 26 business agent and journeyman wireman Violet Quick at a press conference January 28. “In this economy, we feel like we’re on the edge right now.”

Referring to her own work on the recently opened Nationals baseball stadium in D.C., Quick praised the bill’s transparency and accountability. “It was my job to make sure that (the stadium) came in on time and we did a great and outstanding job,” she said. “The contract that we signed is what we fulfilled … the kind of accountability is what we expect of this bill.”       

A 244-188 majority in the House passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that evening, clearing its first major hurdle on its way to becoming law.  

“This is a bill about the future; it is a bill that will guarantee that we will create jobs,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

The act is aimed at creating 4 million jobs by investing in infrastructure repairs such as roads and bridges and green energy projects like retrofitting government buildings for energy efficiency.

The economic meltdown and the resulting credit freeze have sent the U.S. economy into a recession. Latest statistics from the Department of Labor indicate that the unemployment rate rose to 7.2 percent in December, a number that is expected to rise without immediate government action.

“Last year, we lost 2.6 million jobs, which made it the worst year since 1945,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).

The White House has established a Web site, www.recovery.gov, which allows users to monitor each federal spending project included in the bill. The site is expected to go online once the bill is signed by President Obama.

Debate on the Senate version of the bill is expected to stretch into next week. Once passed by the Senate, members from both chambers will work on a joint version of the legislation, which is then sent to the president’s desk for his signature.