According to the Washington Post, yesterday President Obama asked Congress to approve $50 billion in emergency aid to state and local governments. He said the money was necessary to avoid "massive layoffs of teachers, police and firefighters" and to assist local governments with their economic recovery efforts.
In a letter to congressional leaders, Obama defended last year's huge economic stimulus package, saying it helped break the economy's free fall, but argued that more spending is urgent and unavoidable. "We must take these emergency measures," he wrote in an appeal aimed primarily at members of his own party.
The letter comes as rising concern about the national debt is undermining congressional support for additional spending to bolster the economy. Many economists say more spending could help bring down persistently high unemployment, but with Republicans making an issue of the record deficits run up during the recession, many Democratic lawmakers are eager to turn off the stimulus tap.
"I think there is spending fatigue," House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said recently. "It's tough in both houses to get votes."