The House passed a bill Tuesday afternoon providing $26.1 billion to cash-strapped state governments, and preventing roughly 161,000 teachers and 158,000 public works employees from being laid off. The vote was 247-161.
Democratic leadership has been under tremendous pressure to pass legislation before the start of the school year policy-wise, and before the November elections politics-wise.
“The frustration of course has been that the Republicans have a two-step strategy: First of all, obstruct anything from getting better, and then point out that things aren’t getting better,” said Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). “I mean the bill that’s being passed today, if it were passed a month ago, we wouldn’t have had the job loss report last week and I think they’re fine with that.”
Technically, the bill provides $10 billion to fund education and $16 billion to fund Medicaid, but states have been expecting to get the federal assistance and a majority have already budgeted for it, meaning that if the funds were blocked, cuts would have to be made elsewhere — costing the jobs of firefighters, cops and other state employees. The House was already in recess last Thursday when the Senate passed the jobs bill. But lawmakers were more than willing to sacrifice a couple of days at home in their districts to get the bill passed, according to Frank who supports the bill.