Senate Passes $838 Billion Stimulus With (Minor) Help From Republicans

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009 at 12:57 pm

The count was 61 to 37, with three GOP senators — Arlen Specter (Pa.), Olympia Snowe (Me.) and Susan Collins (Me.) — joining every Democrat in supporting the bill.

The bill now moves to a conference with the House, which passed its own $819 billion stimulus bill late last month. Despite similar costs, some major differences between the two versions will have to be ironed out, particularly a $70 billion patch preventing thousands of Americans from having to pay the alternative minimum tax — a provision in the Senate bill but opposed by many House Democrats.

Negotiating for the Senate Democrats will be Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (Mont.) and Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (Ha.). Conferencing for the GOP will be Sens. Charles Grassley (Iowa), the top Republican on the Finance panel, and Thad Cochran (Miss.), the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee.

Lawmakers are hoping to have an agreement to the White House by the weekend. Wish them luck.

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