WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) President Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan passed the Senate Feb. 10 and is on its way to difficult House-Senate negotiations.
Just three Republicans helped pass the plan on a 61-37 vote and they’re already signaling they’ll play hardball to preserve more than $108 billion in spending cuts made last week in Senate dealmaking. Obama wants to restore cuts in funds for school construction jobs and help for cash-starved states.
Those cuts are among the major differences between the $819 billion House version of Obama’s plan and a Senate bill costing $838 billion. Obama has warned of a deepening economic crisis if Congress fails to act. He wants a bill completed by the weekend.
The bill backed by the White House survived a key test vote in the Senate Feb. 9 despite strong Republican opposition, and Democratic leaders vowed to deliver legislation for President Barack Obama’s signature within a few days.
Feb. 9’s vote was 61-36, one more than the 60 needed to advance the measure toward Senate passage on Feb. 10. That in turn, will set the stage for possibly contentious negotiations with the House on a final compromise on legislation the president said is desperately needed to tackle the worst economic crisis in more than a generation.
Feb, 9’s vote was close but scarcely in doubt once the White House and Democratic leaders agreed to trim about $100 billion on Feb. 6.
As a result, Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania broke ranks to cast their votes to advance the bill.
The two remaining versions of the legislation are relatively close in size — $838 billion in the Senate and $819 billion in the House.