President Barack Obama has signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also called the stimulus bill, a bold action that is intended to stimulate the slumping American economy and create millions of jobs for American workers.
“We applaud Congress and the White House for taking bold action to address the current economic crisis,” said National President David J. Holway. “It is hard to say what it will take to get the economy turned around, but it definitely can’t get going without more jobs, and this stimulus bill will create a lot of them. This is a first big step in the right direction.”
Tuesday’s signing is the culmination of a knock-down, drag-out battle on Capitol Hill to reach a workable compromise on the stimulus package. Democrats argued that immediate action was necessary and that the package needed to be sizeable in order to give the economy the desired jolt it needs to get going. Republicans argued that the package included too much government spending and not enough tax cuts. In the end, House and Senate negotiators compromised on a $787 billion package that gained approval from both chambers and sent the legislation to Obama for his signature.
While it remains to be seen if the stimulus bill will mark the beginning of an economic turnaround, there is little doubt that the package will address many of our country’s most pressing needs. The bill will extend healthcare and unemployment benefits to millions of American workers, it will invest in clean energy solutions, and it will fund projects to build roads, bridges, and canals. The package will also send much-needed resources to numerous federal agencies to address backlogs in service and maintenance that built up during the Bush Administration. Finally, the bill will funnel billions of dollars to cash-strapped states and municipalities that have been faced with layoffs if they can’t find a way to offset declining tax revenue.
Department of Defense (DoD) is one of the principal federal agencies that will see stimulus dollars headed their way. These grants include: $4.2 billion for modernizing and repairing facilities, $1.3 billion for construction of medical facilities for servicemen and their families, $890 million to improve base housing, and $300 million for research, development, testing, and evaluation at DoD facilities.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is another federal agency that will be able to address many pressing needs as a result of the stimulus. The VA will receive: $1 billion for maintenance and construction of medical facilities, $150 million for new or remodeled nursing home facilities, $150 million to hire and train claims processors, and $50 million for energy projects and monument/memorial repairs.
Resources headed to the states and municipalities are primarily designated for law enforcement, fire-fighting, and education. Among these, states and municipalities will see nearly $2.8 billion in law enforcement grants, $1 billion for hiring local officers, and $225 million for violence prevention programs.