THE COUNTY'S two congresswomen, Reps. Anna Eshoo and Jackie Speier, both voted in favor of the House of Representatives' revised economic stimulus package on Friday, though their reactions to the bill differed in tone.
"I consider this one of the most important votes that I have cast in my entire tenure in Congress," Eshoo said Friday afternoon.
Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, sounded invigorated by the passage of the $787 billion American Recovery and Investment Act, which emerged in response to what she called "the largest challenge I've seen in my lifetime."
"Now, do I think that this is a silver bullet that is going to take care of everything? No, but it is a very important first step," Eshoo said. "I'm at peace with myself at having cast this vote."
Speier's take on the bill, in the form of an official statement, was grave by comparison, noting that the stimulus package involves "an astonishing amount of money."
"I get no joy from casting a vote to spend this amount of money and I do not take it lightly," Speier, D-Hillsborough, said in the statement, "but I would be guilty of professional malpractice if I sat on my hands while Americans are losing 19,000 jobs a day."
And though Eshoo usually does not shy away from criticizing her colleagues across the aisle, it was Speier who took the sharper tone Friday, attacking the Republican position that Democrats are moving with undue haste to throw astronomical sums of money at the country's deepening economic crisis.
"There are those who wanted us to spend more time talking, which is exactly what Congress did for four years after the 1929 stock market crash," said Speier, adding that unlike "the spending priorities of the last eight years, (the stimulus bill) does not divert taxpayer money to Wall Street or Halliburton or secret overseas prisons."
Speier said she was pleased that the package contains provisions to improve schools, build new roads and invest in new sources of energy.
Eshoo noted that the bill will upgrade the nation's schools and infrastructure, from broadband to bridges, enact middle-class tax relief, extend unemployment benefits, help laid-off workers pay for COBRA health insurance, and boost funding for science, technology and alternative energy.
The spending bill did not receive a single vote from House Republicans, despite the fact that Democrats changed aspects of the bill to suit the GOP, but Eshoo didn't sound particularly bothered by the lack of support.
"I think there is a philosophy that is at work here, the view that government should not have a hand in all of this and that tax cuts and tax cuts only are the premier stimulative for our national economy," she said.
But that view was discredited during the Bush administration, she said. Echoing the new president, Eshoo emphasized that "doing nothing" to galvanize the economy was "not an option."
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