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Senate Passes Stimulus Bill, 61-37

Posted by tothewire on February 10, 2009

The Senate — following a repeat of many Republican senators’ objections to the focus of the $838 billion stimulus — passed its bill, 61-37.

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It was a near-repeat of the procedural vote from last night, which occurred shortly before President Obama took to the lectern in the White House East Room and concentrated efforts in his first news conference on the economy and how to reverse the downturn. The bill now must be reconciled with the House version, which passed a little more than a week ago without one Republican vote. (The Web site ProPublica.org has posted a side-by-side comparison of some of the differences between the bills.)

Yet another poignant moment today as Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who is battling brain cancer, reappeared to vote, first on a procedural move and then for the final stimulus package. Using a cane, he entered the Senate chamber alone, and stumbled a little on the steps downward, but righted himself as Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, stood at the bottom and helped steady him.

When Senator Robert Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, was wheeled in, Mr. Kennedy grinned and said, “There he is!” In response, Mr. Byrd practically shouted his greeting: “Teddy!”

Interestingly last night, President Obama took issue with one of the highlighted differences between the two bills, saying he favored the school construction aid that was stripped out of the Senate bill from the House version. Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House, has repeatedly objected to the loss of such funds, contending they would not only provide new learning environs for children but also spur job creation immediately. Last week, at the Democrats’ retreat in Williamsburg, Representative James Clyburn, the majority whip, talked about the old school in South Carolina that Mr. Obama mentioned last night, and suggested that this was his party’s time to rebuild and build new schools.

This morning, Idaho’s newest senator, James Risch, gave his first speech on the Senate floor and echoed the chorus of Republicans who have opposed the bill and wanted it to include measures to shore up the housing market. “My problem with the discussion that we’ve had over recent weeks has been with the focus of the solution and I believe that the focus is really misfocused,” Mr. Risch said. “The president agrees, we agree, most economists agree that this will take a three-path solution for economic growth. … The focus should not be on government spending. The focus should be on credit flow and on the housing market and it’s not. For that I object.”

Senator Max Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee and Democrat from Montana, disagreed from the floor during this morning’s debate. “Every dollar in this bill is stimulative,” he asserted, adding that the Congressional Budget Office estimates that about 79 percent of the money would be spent within the first two years.

A few other notes: Senators Daniel Inouye, Baucus, Majority Leader Harry Reid, along with Republicans Thad Cochran and Charles Grassley, will represent the Senate in the anticipated conference between their bill and the House version.

The final vote today added one more Republican to the opposition from last night’s procedural vote; Senator John Cornyn of Texas voted against the package today but was in Manhattan for a fund-raiser on Monday and so did not cast a vote then.

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One Response to “Senate Passes Stimulus Bill, 61-37”

  1. Stimulus Package…

    Washington insider leaks what tax payers will receive from Obama\’s stimulus package!…

    Like

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