Washington (CNN) - Monkeys on cocaine. New windows for a closed visitor's center. Modern dance as a tool for software development.
A report released Tuesday by conservative Sens. Tom Coburn and John McCain cited these and 97 other projects as leading examples of misguided or wasteful spending under the Obama administration's $862 billion economic stimulus bill.
Titled "Summertime Blues," the report is the third by the two senators targeting projects that they say fail to meet the job-creation goal of spending under the Recovery Act of 2009.
The report highlights the extraordinary "waste and mismanagement" of taxpayer dollars, said McCain, R-Arizona. The stimulus plan "was supposed to create jobs. It does not."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/03/06/obama.stimulus/art.obama.ohio.cnn.jpg
caption="President Obama says his stimulus plan will spur job creation."](CNN) - President Obama on Friday touted the benefits of his economic recovery plan at a police cadet graduation made possible as a result of the recently passed $787 billion stimulus package.
"We've got big challenges ahead of us," Obama said at the ceremony for 25 new Columbus, Ohio police officers.
But the stimulus plan would facilitate an economic recovery, he said, in part by helping support workers in law enforcement, teaching and other public sector professions.
"Because of this plan, stories like the one we're celebrating here in Columbus will soon take place all across this nation," the president said as he announced the distribution of $2 billion in new law enforcement grants from the stimulus package.
The graduating cadets were informed at the end of January that they would be laid off because of a shortfall in the city's budget, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman said.
MIAMI, Florida (CNN) - The U.S. Conference of Mayors said Monday in a letter to President Barack Obama it's concerned that several Republican governors have said they plan to turn down a portion of what's offered in the $787 billion stimulus package.
"Mayors know, better than anyone, that there are families suffering because of the recession in every state of this great nation," said the letter, signed by Manny Diaz, mayor of Miami and president of the group.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/18/art.getty.obama.laughing.jpg caption="President Obama sent an e-mail to his online backers thanking them for their support of his stimulus plan."](CNN) – President Obama sent an e-mail to his online backers thanking them for their pushing for his stimulus plan, his first e-mail to supporters since his inauguration.
”You organized thousands of house meetings. You shared your ideas and personal stories. And you informed your friends and neighbors about the need for immediate action. You continue to be a powerful voice for change throughout the country,” the president wrote in the e-mail to his internet followers. “This is a historic step - the first of many as we work together to climb out of this crisis - and I want to thank you for your resolve and your support.”
Organizing for America — now an arm of the Democratic National Committee — called on the president’s supporters to hold house parties and distribute state-by-state aid breakdowns earlier this month to help boost public support for the plan as Congress weighed the package.
The president also highlighted Recovery.gov, his new website aimed at tracking dollars spent and jobs created by the bill. Visitors to the site are able to weigh in with comments and questions regarding the allocation of funds distributed by the bill, and submit their own economic hardship stories.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/17/art.obama17.gi.jpg caption="Obama will sign the stimulus bill into law Tuesday."]NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - President Obama on Tuesday will sign the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law. But he's far from being able to declare "Mission Accomplished."
Even though debate over the legislation was fraught with partisan fighting and what some characterize as strategic missteps by the nascent administration, getting the law passed was the easy part.
Far more difficult will be gauging whether the legislation's trademark initiatives - which include improving physical infrastructure, investing in energy projects and providing financial relief for families by way of tax cuts and increased government benefits - are really doing the trick.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/13/art.brown.gi.jpg caption="Brown is flying back from Ohio for tonight’s vote."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Senate will start its vote on whether to approve the economic stimulus bill at 5:30 pm, but the vote will kept open until 10:30 pm because Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown is home in Ohio attending his mother’s wake, and is not expected to return to the Capitol until late this evening.
Democrats need 60 votes to pass the bill, and Brown’s vote is expected to be the 60th.
Brown will be flown back to Washington on a government plane. The plane is provided by the White House, Brown’s office said, because the vote is “official business” and there are not commercial flights available that would allow him cast his vote and then return to Ohio for his mother’s funeral Saturday morning. He will fly back to Ohio immediately after he votes.
The vote that will start at 5:30 pm is technically a procedural vote to allow stimulus spending to exceed budget rules. But by unanimous consent, senators agreed to have the vote also count as the final passage of the bill, so there will not be a final roll call vote on the bill itself.
UPDATE: CNN Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry reports that a White House official refused to provide a cost estimate for the military plane, but acknowledged “it will be a higher cost than if he were flying commercial.”
The official said it is a “small government plane” and the White House decided it was necessary because of the lack of commercial flights this evening, and the difficulty of getting Brown back to Ohio in time for an early burial Saturday morning.
“Taking immediate action to save or create 3.5 million jobs and get America’s economy moving again is a top priority for Ohio and the nation,” said the White House official. “Given that no commercial flights were available that would allow Senator Brown to make the vote and to attend services memorializing his mother, the administration provided government transportation to ensure that he could do so.”
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - In a 246 to 183 vote largely along party lines, the House of Representatives on Friday passed a $787.2 billion economic recovery package that was drawn up, amended and negotiated in record time.
No Republicans voted for the bill, while seven Democrats voted against it. When the House voted on its own version of a stimulus bill a few weeks ago, no Republicans voted for that measure and 11 Democrats had also voted against it.
The Senate is expected to vote on the measure Friday evening. It, too, is expected to pass the bill, but with no more than three Republicans supporting it.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Despite direct lobbying by members of President Obama's administration in the last couple of weeks, many moderate House Republicans are still firmly opposed to the measure.
Before the House vote last month, 11 House Republicans attended a meeting at the White House with Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to discuss their possible support. None of those members voted for the bill then, and CNN has learned that most do not intend to support the latest version either.
Pennsylvania Republican Jim Gerlach said he got calls from two Cabinet secretaries on Thursday –- HUD Secretary Sean Donovan and Transportation Secretary Secretary Ray LaHood – – but said the bill didn’t include the “fundamental change I think is needed.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) - House Democratic leaders were forced to put off until Friday a vote on the Presidents economic stimulus bill, after many rank and file Democrats unhappy with some of the spending cuts, demanded time to read the measure. As of 1:00 pm Thursday the text of legislation spelling out the details of the House-Senate compromise had not been completed. Despite the delay, multiple sources, said the bill was not in jeopardy.
The decision to put off the House vote was made following a Thursday morning closed door House Democratic meeting, the second meeting in less than 24 hours to discuss the $789 billion bill.
Many lawmakers left Thursday’s meeting expressing resignation that there is not much they can do to change the spending measure, which they feel does not go far enough to solve the current economic troubles.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/11/art.pelosi3.gi.jpg caption="Pelosi and Reid are discussing the stimulus compromise."]WASHINGTON (CNN) -Despite talk of a deal, the stimulus saga isn't over - a deal has not been reached. CNN can confirm that Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid is in Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office at this hour, trying to persuade her to agree.
Senate Democratic leadership aides say the holdup concerns the addition of $10 billion for school construction/modernization. In the Senate version, $10 billion was added to the $44 billion allocated toward 'state stabilization' to help school infrastructure.
But aides say House members would rather this $10 billion in funding go through Title I, which would assign the funds based on need, as opposed to giving the money to governors through the state stabilization vehicle.
Nadeam Elshami, a spokesman for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, says that a meeting is currently underway in the Speaker's office with House Democratic leadership, Senate representatives and White House representatives.
"We're moving very rapidly to making an announcement on a deal," said Elshami.