Obama Signs Stimulus Bill: Much-needed Resources Headed to Federal AgenciesFriday, February 20, 2009
(National Federation of Federal Employees)
Denver, CO – This week, President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the stimulus bill, a bold action that is intended to stimulate the slumping economy and create millions of jobs for American workers.
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 jolt it needs to get going again. 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 President 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 also provides 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, $890 million to improve base housing, and $300 million for research, development, testing, and evaluation at DoD facilities.
The U.S. Forest Service will also be given a substantial sum for projects that have gone underfunded for years. The agency will receive $650 million to improve and maintain Forest Service facilities and another $500 million for wildfire management, of which $250 million would be devoted to federal lands.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will be able to address many pressing needs as a result of the stimulus as well. 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.
Additional federal agency grants include: $4.6 billion to the Army Corps of Engineers for flood protection, hydropower, and navigation/infrastructure improvements; $4.8 billion to GSA for making federal buildings and vehicles more energy efficient; $90 million to improve domestic passport facilities and systems; $500 million to the Indian Health Service for modernizing health clinics and hospitals; $240 million for the Coast Guard to remove obstacles and improve navigation; $320 million to supplement current Bureau of Land Management projects; and $140 million to upgrade U.S. Geological Survey facilities and equipment.
“This economic crisis demanded bold action from our elected leaders, and they delivered,” said NFFE National President Richard N. Brown. “This bill is going to put millions of people back to work, and the American people are going to have something tangible to show for their investment.”