Summoned back from summer break, the House on Tuesday pushed through an emergency $26 billion jobs bill to protect 300,000 teachers, police and others from election-year layoffs. President Barack Obama was to sign the measure by day's end.
Lawmakers streamed back to Washington for a one-day session as Democrats declared a need to act before children return to classrooms minus teachers laid off because of budgetary crises in states that have been hard-hit by the recession.
Republicans saw it differently, calling the bill a giveaway to teachers' unions and an example of wasteful Washington spending that voters will punish the Democrats for in this fall's elections. The legislation was approved mainly along party lines by a vote of 247-161.
The aid for the states is to be paid for mostly by closing a tax loophole used by multinational corporations and by reducing food stamp benefits for the poor.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the bill was being immediately sent to the White House so Obama could sign it into law. Obama, joined by teachers at a Rose Garden ceremony earlier in the day, said, "We can't stand by and do nothing while pink slips are given to the men and women who educate our children or keep our communities safe."
Uh-huh. So, what happens next? What if the economy doesn't improve over the next year? Then what? More "emergency" bills signed for the benefit of the public service unions while those of us without union cards get stuck with the bill? Jeez.
BTW, this is yet another example of the failure of the "stimulus" package. It has done little to get our economy rolling again. I swear that we are all better off when congress is away on vacation where they can do little damage to the public finances.