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Obama Wins Stimulus Support From Republican Governors

First Posted: 03/02/09 05:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 02:00 PM ET

Govs

There is, in fact, significant bipartisan support for Barack Obama's recovery package -- at least beyond the halls of Congress.

In recent days, some of the nation's more moderate Republican governors have bucked their fellow party members in Washington and come out in favor of the stimulus proposal.

"In some ways, as the governor of Florida, I'm concerned about what infrastructure projects can be supported by this plan, how we can help education, how we can help with health care for the most vulnerable in our society," Gov. Charlie Crist said on Friday. "We have a deficit in our budget that we are facing in our session coming up in March. And it looks like this could be a help to Florida if done right. From some of my colleagues I have spoken with in the congressional delegation, it will help Florida."

As economic indicators worsen and state budgets suffer, most governors are finding an infusion of federal aid irresistible. And so there are situations like the one taking place in Indiana, where Rep. Mike Pence has led the House GOP charge in opposition to Obama's plan while his state's Republican governor has offered grudging support.

"I have great misgivings," Gov. Mitch Daniels told reporters Thursday in Indianapolis, "but I hope that it's going to work."

In Connecticut, the state's moderate Republican governor Jodi Rell called up Democratic Rep. Jim Himes to ask how she could help move the stimulus through Congress.

"What can I do, who can I call to make sure this passes?" Rell told Himes, according to The Hill.

To be sure, not every Republican governor is on board with the stimulus. The Republican Governors Association "does not take an official position," according to the group's communications director Mike Schrimpf. But there are various members of the organization, he said, who have been critical of the recovery package. Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi called large portions of the stimulus "just crazy."

"Don't give me $400 million of one-time money and make me spend it on recurring expenses," he told the Wall Street Journal. "I'm better off not to get it."

Gov. Rick Perry, in Texas, has voiced similar, fiscally conservative concerns. And Mark Sanford, governor of South Carolina, penned an op-ed Friday on the conservative site Human Events, questioning the efficacy of a "stimulus package approach[ing] $1 trillion... [H]ow will spending even more help?"

Yet even Sanford has said he is "undecided" about whether to accept stimulus funding in the event that it passes, and he is facing heavy pressure from the state's mayors and even Republicans in the state legislature to help gear federal aid their way.

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