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Obama Approves Billions for Teachers, Cops in Cash-Strapped States

The House passed a $26 billion bill saving thousands of jobs earlier Tuesday.

ByABC News
August 10, 2010, 10:29 AM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 10, 2010— -- President Obama has signed into law a controversial spending bill aimed at saving hundreds of thousands of teacher, police officer and public health worker jobs in states grappling with budget cutbacks in a down economy.

The $26 billion package, which was approved by the House in a largely party-line vote earlier Tuesday, includes $10 billion to keep an estimated 160,000 teachers on the job, and $16 billion to help states meet their Medicaid payments for six months. Democrats say the aid to states could also help keep 150,000 police officers and other workers on payrolls.

The Senate passed the controversial measure last week after House lawmakers had already left for their six-week summer break forcing Speaker Nancy Pelosi to summon members back to Washington for the rare August vote.

"We can't stand by and do nothing while pink slips are given to the men and women who educate our children or keep our communities safe," said President Obama during remarks in the Rose Garden ahead of the vote.

Republicans have sharply criticized the package, calling it more misguided government spending and accusing Democrats of political pandering ahead of the November elections.

"We are broke. We do not have the money to bail out the states," John Boehner, the top House Republican, told reporters this morning. "This bailout to the teachers' unions is some of the most irresponsible policy I've seen."

Republicans used the word "bailout" seven times during the seven minute press conference.

"We are not bankrupting the country fast enough and so we need to come back and spend even more," said California Republican Rep. Tom McClintock, slamming the one-day emergency session.