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RealTime IT News

Stimulus bill clears House with IT provisions intact

The dawn of a post-partisan era, eh?

As expected, the House tonight passed a massive stimulus package in a desperate attempt to help pull a sinking economy out of the mud. The margin: 244 to 188. Not a single Republican voted for the bill.

Depending on where you stand, the bill could be good news for the tech industry. Funneling billions of dollars into clean energy initiatives, health IT and broadband deployment, the bill could be a boon to companies like Google, which has a keen interest in all three areas.

It certainly had the support of one of the key industry associations, the Information Technology Industry Council, which represents major tech players like IBM, Intel and Cisco.

ITIC President Dean Garfield met with President Obama today along with CEOs from several tech firms and other industries.

"I am glad to see that President Obama values the role that the high tech industry plays in this economy," Garfield said in a statement. "This stimulus legislation is an important first step toward putting the economy back on the right path."

Of course, Garfield added that a key component of any successful stimulus was tax credits for companies to rejuvenate the investments that would save or create jobs.

The tax vs. direct spending split was the central fissure between Republicans and Democrats in the House debate. Roughly two-thirds of the money in the bill passed today would come in direct spending, much to the chagrin of Republicans.

The bill now passes to the Senate, where lawmakers are working swiftly to craft their own, more expensive version, which will likely include more compromise provisions. In the broadband title alone, lawmakers have crossed partisan lines to include some tax cuts for qualifying network build-outs, which were absent from the House bill.

The total price tag for the House bill settled at $819 billion. After an accounting review, the Congressional Budget Office brought the original total of $825 billion down to $816 billion. Then Democrats introduced and passed a $3 billion amendment for mass transit projects in today's floor debate.

The price tag for the Senate version now stands at more than $900 billion.

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