WASHINGTON—Democrats, stung by criticism of their $787 billion economic-stimulus plan, are targeting Republicans who have attacked the program and then lobbied to get money for their districts. The article is so important that I haveAll that we have heard lately has been that the Stimulus Package has been a failure. But without it, schools and safety would be in trouble and there would be little help for those who have contributed to society who are now out of work. There are so very few jobs in places like Michigan, my home state. Without an extension of unemployment many children would go hungry and be homeless.
More than a dozen Republican lawmakers supported stimulus-funding requests submitted to the Department of Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Forest Service, in letters obtained by The Wall Street Journal through the Freedom of Information Act.
The stimulus package passed last February with no Republican votes in the House of Representatives. In the Senate, just three Republicans supported it: Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who later switched to the Democratic Party.
Read the letters sent to the EPA by Kay Bailey Hutchison, John Cornyn, and Robert Bennett; to the Labor Department by Sue Myrick, Paul Ryan, Jean Schmidt; and to the Forest Service by the Alabama congressional delegation.
Lawmakers routinely send letters in support of federal funding for projects in their constituencies; some Republican lawmakers have deliberately avoided sending requests for stimulus dollars because of their opposition to the bill.
Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who called the stimulus a "wasteful spending spree" that "misses the mark on all counts," wrote to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis in October in support of a grant application from a group in his district which, he said, "intends to place 1,000 workers in green jobs." A spokeswoman for Mr. Ryan said the congressman felt it was his job to provide "the basic constituent service of lending his assistance for federal grant requests."
Republican Reps. Sue Myrick of North Carolina and Jean Schmidt of Ohio sent letters in October asking for consideration of funding requests from local organizations training workers for energy-efficiency projects.
In November, Ms. Schmidt said in a statement, "It is time to recall the stimulus funds that have not been spent before the Chinese start charging us interest." Aides to the congresswomen said they had always supported local organizations in their requests for federal funding.
None of the projects requested by the three House members received awards in funding decisions announced in January.
The Environmental Protection Agency received two letters from Sen. John Cornyn of Texas asking for consideration of grants for clean diesel projects in San Antonio and Houston. Mr. Cornyn is the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
One of the letters was signed jointly with Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, also of Texas. The letter said that the Port of Houston Authority "has informed me of the positive impact this grant will have in the region by serving as a foundation for PHA's Clean Air Strategy Plan, creating jobs, and significantly reducing diesel emissions." Houston received millions of dollars in diesel funding.
The agency also appeared to have received eight identical letters from Republican Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah recommending infrastructure projects in his state, seven of which were sent before stimulus legislation was passed by Congress.
Spokespeople for Mr. Cornyn and Mr. Bennett said they were just making sure their states received part of the spending once it had been agreed upon. Ms. Hutchison's office didn't respond to a request for comment.
The entire congressional delegation of Alabama, including its two Republican senators, wrote to then-Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell asking for $15 million for cogongrass eradication and control programs in the state. The state ended up getting a $6.3 million grant.
Republican Richard Shelby, the state's senior senator, called the stimulus package "the socialist way" while it was being debated. A spokesman didn't respond to a request for comment.
President Barack Obama and his party have been playing defense for much of the past year on the stimulus bill. But now the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and its allies are planning to use this week's anniversary of the passage of the stimulus package to tout its success, and to attack prominent Republicans whose states have benefited from stimulus grants.
Mr. Obama warned Republicans last month at their annual retreat that Democrats were ready to spotlight representatives who touted stimulus funds in their districts. "Let's face it, some of you have been at the ribbon-cuttings for some of these important projects in your communities," Mr. Obama said.
A spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee said Democrats risked being perceived as "totally out of touch" by marking the achievements of the stimulus plan on its anniversary. "If the Democrats' answer is to highlight the few worthy projects within what has become regarded as a wasteful and bloated trillion-dollar failure then they are truly grasping at straws," said Ken Spain.
Republicans have seized on double-digit unemployment—the rate hit 10.2% in October before easing in January to 9.7%—to challenge the Obama administration's estimates for the number of jobs supported by stimulus spending.
About $180 billion of the funds allocated to various projects has been paid out. Tax cuts worth about $93 billion have also taken effect, according to agency records published on the government Web site recovery.gov. An additional $320 billion in spending hasn't yet been handed out. A further $195 billion in tax cuts are due to flow through tax returns.
Most of the stimulus spending so far has gone to state and local governments to plug holes in their schools, Medicaid and unemployment-benefits budgets. Spending on infrastructure projects is expected to pick up in 2010.
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