The scheduled showdown on the $26.1 billion aid package “defines the difference between the two parties,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
It sure does, angry Republicans agreed.
“The American people don’t want more stimulus spending,” said House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio, “especially in the form of a payoff to union bosses and liberal special interests.”
It’s unclear who’ll benefit politically from the extraordinary vote. The House had left for its recess July 30, but when the Senate passed the aid last week on a largely party-line vote, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., summoned the House back into session.
“Traditionally this is the kind of vote Democrats lick their chops over, but you don’t know if it’s still as potent as it was 20 or 30 years ago. People fear we’re spending too much,” said Burdett Loomis, an expert on Congress at the University of Kansas.
The bill, which the White House strongly supports, would provide $16.1 billion for Medicaid, the state-federal health program for lower-income people, and $10 billion to help local school districts “prevent imminent layoffs,” according to a Democratic information sheet.