House Passes American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
The U.S. House of Representatives today passed H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), by a vote of 244 to 188. The bill would provide an economic stimulus of $819 billion to be spent over the next few years with a combination of emergency spending and tax cuts to create and protect up to 4 million jobs nationwide. This stimulus legislation is necessary to reduce the impact of the current economic recession and make important investments in education, energy, health care and infrastructure. Although the bill does not authorize and provide federal funds for specific projects, it does provide broad funding for certain federal programs to support initiatives at the state, territory, and local levels of government in the areas of transportation and telecommunications infrastructure, economic development, health care information technology, and to stabilize important social services and education budgets.
The Senate is continuing its work on its own version of the legislation. After Senate passage of its version, it will be reconciled with the House version. Congresswoman Bordallo will be working with the various federal agencies administering programs funded by the bill after it becomes law to ensure funds are dispersed in a timely and targeted manner to the Government of Guam. She is also working with her colleagues from the territories to maximize funding for the territories provided by the final bill.
Included in the version passed today by the House was the "Making Work Pay" Tax Credit, which gives a $500 tax credit for individuals and a $1,000 tax credit to those filing joint returns. Under the bill the U.S. treasury will pay the Guam Department of Revenue and Taxation the amount of credit that will be claimed by Guam's taxpayers. This provision holds the Guam treasury harmless for the new tax credits and protects it from the resulting loss of revenue. The provision was included at the request of Congresswoman Bordallo and the territorial Delegates and is based on the same arrangement used for paying out the tax rebates issued in 2008.
"This is major legislation that will help our country recover economically. The bill funds several key programs to help jump start infrastructure projects at the local level. The bill also adds funds to federal social safety nets to help working families that are struggling to make ends meet. There is more money for food stamps and community services. There are also increases for community development block grants, Pell grants, and our territorial highway program. Finally, there are funds in the bill to support elementary and secondary education. The bill is broad in scope, and while the bill contains no earmarks, there are opportunities for the Government of Guam to work with the various federal agencies to receive its fair share of these programs. The bill also provides incentives for those states and territories that have shovel-ready projects to execute within six months of the bill becoming law."