Rep. Patrick Murphy, one of the fiscally conservative "blue dog" Democrats in the U.S. House, broke with his party's leadership Wednesday night to vote against a plan to finance job-creating infrastructure projects in part with bank bailout money.
Money from the Troubled Assets Relief Program repaid by banks should not finance new spending, but should instead be used to pay down U.S. debt, Murphy said.
Rep. John Adler (D., N.J.) also voted against the bill, which passed 217-212. Thirty-eight Democrats in the House voted against it, as did all but three Republicans.
"Any bailout money that comes back should be used to pay off high-interest debt, particularly debt held by China," Murphy, of Bucks County, said in an interview. "To me it's a national security issue."
The $154 billion jobs package would pay for "shovel-ready" construction projects, as well as aid to states to avoid public employee layoffs, and an extension of unemployment benefits. About $75 billion of the package would be financed with leftover money in the TARP program, cash that has either not been spent on bailouts or has been repaid to the government.
"We need to restore financial responsibility in Washington," Adler said in a statement. He voted against a measure to raise the government's debt ceiling, which squeaked by on a 218-214 vote. Murphy voted yes to the debt ceiling bill.
The debt ceiling has been raised several times in the past 18 months to allow for the financing of federal spending already committed.