2059341Democrats in the House reacted positively to President Obama's job speech today at the Brookings Institution.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that House Democrats will work with the president to put "Americans to work building a 21st century infrastructure and making our homes more energy efficient, ensuring that small business owners gain easier access to capital and credit, and helping to keep teachers, police, and firefighters on the job in our communities."
At Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's weekly meeting with reporters this morning, he said that it is more important to do a jobs bill right than fast, but that it needs to be done soon. Hoyer said doing it in the next 10 days is not essential, but said 30 to 40 days from now is more realistic.
Exact details of the package, and the price tag, are still under negotiation, though it is expected to include money for infrastructure, tax cuts and credits for small businesses and credits for homeowners who make their homes more energy efficient. Hoyer said figures ranging from $75 billion to $150 billion have been discussed.
What will come to the floor, however, before the House leaves for the holidays is an extension of unemployment insurance and subsidies to help the unemployed purchase COBRA health insurance.
On using Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds to pay for the jobs bill, Hoyer said House members are planning to use paid back bailout money to pay for part of the jobs bill, but also to pay down debt. It's unclear at this point how much Congress could spend from TARP.
House Republicans, meanwhile, took to the House floor and held press conferences to slam the idea of using TARP money for more spending instead of paying down the debt as the law stipulates.
"To use money from the TARP fund in the manner being discussed by the White House and congressional Democrats would be against the law and a violation of the trust of the American people," said Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.). Other Republicans, like Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) accuse Democrats of using what was supposed to be one-time emergency spending to keep the economy from collapsing as a slush fund.
Republicans have signaled over the last couple weeks that any additional spending should come from unspent stimulus funds, but Hoyer told reporters that Democrats believe the stimulus is working and they "don't want to undermine it over the next 18 months."