ONEONTA _ Rep. Michael Arcuri, D-Utica, was leaning no' on the federal stimulus package until just before the final roll call, the congressman told the Oneonta Rotary Club on Thursday.
Arcuri had even lent his support for a Republican-pushed modification of the stimulus that was defeated before he voted in favor of the $819 billion package.
"Was this bill the perfect bill? No. Absolutely not. But I think we needed to take some action on the bill," Arcuri said after his appearance at the Rotary Club's luncheon, held at the Elk's Club.
No House Republicans supported the final version of the stimulus package, which passed by a vote of 244-188.
The Senate version of the bill rose to $888 billion Thursday, and action on it was expected next week. The bill was on track to reach President Obama's desk by Feb. 13, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Wednesday.
In addition to Medicaid relief and school grants that will have a direct impact on Otsego County, there is also a boost to the Pell Grant program for college students, more disaster mitigation funding and new tax credits for small businesses, Arcuri said.
Arcuri said he will be pushing the Senate to include more funding for water and sewer infrastructure projects because those types of projects are requested by his constituents.
Projects like those also create jobs, he said.
"That's real important for me, and I talked to Senator Schumer and I know it's a real priority for him," Arcuri said.
Arcuri said he sided with a failed GOP-sponsored amendment that would have curtailed some spending programs in the stimulus in favor of more infrastructure spending. That measure failed by a vote of 270-159, with Arcuri being one of 13 Democrats in the House supporting it.
But he later cast a vote in favor of the Obama-backed stimulus package.
"In my vote yesterday, I chose to support the economic stimulus because the time for talk is over and now is the time for action," Arcuri said.
"I was not sure, until the very, very end, if I was going to support this. My problem with the plan itself was that, look, there are great things in this package, but I think we need to have vision."
The Rotary, which traditionally sings songs at its luncheons, sang the tune "Erie Canal" before Arcuri spoke.
The construction of the Erie Canal, which led to a boon in New York state in the 1800s, is an example of the kind of far-reaching vision needed, Arcuri said.