Groups hail passage of stimulus package

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Two major Jewish groups hailed the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of economic stimulus legislation.

The United Jewish Communities and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs praised the $819 billion bill passed Wednesday in the House for not only helping to revitalize the economy, but also for assisting the most vulnerable. The measure is now headed for Senate consideration.

UJC cited the $88.5 billion in increased federal funding for state Medicaid programs and the $200 million directed toward the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, which provides funding to nonprofits to respond to food and shelter needs.

JCPA also praised the same provisions, as well as the $20 billion of funding for food stamps, $43 billion for increaseed unemployment benefits, $79 billion for education spending, $77 billion in clean energy and transportation projects, and increases in funding for programs such as the Community Development, Child Care Development and Community Services Block Grants and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance program.

"We are pleased that the House has approved legislation that demonstrates a commitment to the principles of economic opportunity and dignity for all,” said Rabbi Steve Gutow, executive director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

William Daroff, vice president for public policy and director of UJC’s Washington office, said the bill is "crucially vital" to his organization and the federation system on many levels.

“One area that is critically important in this time of great hardship for so many families are the number of services we provide to help individuals and families make ends meet," he said. "However, as more individuals lose their jobs or see their salaries and benefits cut, food banks, soup kitchens, mental health counselors and vocational trainers struggle to meet the additional number of individuals seeking their support. This bill begins to address these issues and many more that will help provide the resources we need to continue providing these critical services.”

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