This week the House passed the $819 billion stimulus package, and even more exciting is that over $100 billion of the package is allocated to green spending. Amazingly, the package passed without a single Republican vote. Only 11 Democrats voted against the bill, with a final vote of 244-188.
Here is a breakdown of the green spending measure as stated in stimulus package:
- $14.6 billion to fund the expansion of public transportation. This number is actually $3 billion more than initially agreed upon, thanks to the efforts of mass transit supporters during debate.
- $37.9 billion towards energy efficiency
- $27.8 billion for renewable energy
- $20 billion in renewable-energy and energy efficiency tax credits and other financial incentives, added by the Ways and Means Committee.
So far, it seems like the House has made significant headway to ensure that green energy and climate change are important issues this session.
But wait, let’s not get our hopes up too high quite yet…we still have the get the package through the Senate. Voting on a specific package should not begin until later next week, and there is some speculation that it might not look as great as the current package. So far, appropriation to mass transit is only up to $8.2 billion. The Republican no-show was certainly intended to make a statement. The New York Times reported Republican Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to say that he hoped the zero-vote showing would pressure Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to make changes to the bill during negotiations between the House and Senate.
President Obama issued the following statement, touching on the expected dissidence between the House and the Senate:
The plan now moves to the Senate, and I hope that we can continue to strengthen this plan before it gets to my desk. But what we can’t do is drag our feet or allow the same partisan differences to get in our way. We must move swiftly and boldly to put Americans back to work, and that is exactly what this plan begins to do.
So far so good, Mr. President! I just hope that by “strengthen this plan” you mean to keep those green spending measures intact!