House Republicans, as a group, may take great pride in the goose egg they offered President Obama's stimulus package. But now the unanimous opposition is struggling to bring that money home.
Republicans will be working hard to make sure the money they opposed ends up benefiting their home districts, highlighting the political tightrope they walk in this economic crisis. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is watching House Republicans -- and reading local media -- closely and is only too happy to highlight any happy talk about a stimulus Republicans voted against.
Back in his home district, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) found some nice things to say about the plan.
"Within the stimulus package there is some Pell Grant money, which is a good thing. It helps students be able to pay for their education and that's kind of a long term stimulus effect there. I mean obviously that's not gonna provide a job in the next 120, 180 days, but the ability of someone to get an education is an economic development tool," Luetkemeyer said at a local college. He was there, in another inside-outside Washington twist, to celebrate an earmark for a college building.
He lamented that there would be far fewer such earmarks in the future. "If they go back to the rules, it will make it very difficult to get earmarks through the next two years because number one we don't have any more money, we just blew it all on this stimulus package. Although, we're gonna have to print some more in order to be able to bail out the financial institutes and the automobile manufacturers," said Luetkemeyer.
Ken Spain, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said that the quotes aren't hypocritical, but rather demonstrate that Republicans did support a stimulus in general, just not the one Democrats presented to them.
"We would like to thank the DCCC for circulating these comments. They are proof-positive that Republicans stood willing and ready to support commonsense measures in the stimulus package until Nancy Pelosi unfortunately chose to undercut President Obama's message of bipartisanship by including absurd pork-barrel spending projects such as millions to protect a mouse in the San Francisco Bay, golf carts for government bureaucrats, and STD prevention funds. Republicans said 'yes' to a true stimulus package, but unanimously said 'no' to putting the politics of pork before the needs of the middle class," said Spain.
Rep. Don Young (R-AK) put out a press release saying that he "won a victory for the Alaska Native contracting program and other Alaska small business owners last night in H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act."
In California's Inland Empire, battered by the economic downturn, the mostly Republican delegation is happy the stimulus passed, too, according to local news reports.
"Even the Republican lawmakers who oppose the bill say such projects are needed in the region," the local paper reports.
"All along he has believed infrastructure spending, in particular, should provide a boost to the Inland Empire's economy," a spokesman to Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) said.
"While we philosophically have different opinions, we're obligated to make sure this money is spent properly," said Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA). "All of us in the Inland Empire will do what we can to direct as much money as we can."
UPDATE: Think Progress finds a press release from Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) along the same lines:
Last week, Bond led a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing an amendment to help provide needy families affordable housing. Bond's amendment provides $2 billion to fund low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) projects that have been stalled by the financial credit crisis. As part of the Democrats' spending bill now signed into law, the Senate unanimously accepted Bond's provision. [...]
This provision will have a real impact in Missouri, especially for low-income, working families in need of safe and affordable housing. ... Bond's amendment will save more than 700 housing units and create 3,000 new jobs in Missouri.