WASHINGTON (CN) – The House passed a second economic stimulus bill Thursday, the day before February’s employment numbers were scheduled to come out. The bill, which passed on a mostly party-line vote of 217-201, aims to spur job growth by offering $15 billion in hiring incentives and $20 billion in transportation funding.
Economists expect the 9.7 percent unemployment rate to climb to 9.8 percent in Friday’s Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report, Bloomberg News reported.
The bill comes after growing discontentment over persistent high unemployment drove Democrats and the Obama administration to shift their focus from health care to job creation.
Passage of the jobs bill shows Congress is doing something about the dismal employment situation and signifies movement in an otherwise frozen Congress.
Republicans have said the bill would be largely ineffective.
Thirty-five Democrats broke rank to vote against the bill, while six Republicans voted for it.
The plan includes $15 billion in payroll tax reductions for companies that hire unemployed Americans and keep them on through the end of the year.
It also steers $20 billion toward road and bridge construction.
The Senate passed a similar bill last week.