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Stimulus Talks to Continue Friday; Sunday Vote Possible

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) abandoned his attempt to quickly pass a more than $900 billion economic stimulus bill on Thursday night, but he is threatening to hold a Sunday test vote if the measure cannot be completed Friday. With Senators demanding votes on numerous amendments and a bipartisan team still struggling to come up with a compromise plan to cut as much as $100 billion, Reid shut the Senate down late Thursday evening, with a plan to resume consideration of the controversial bill at 10 a.m. Friday. Reid said he is cautiously optimistic that the measure can be passed during the day on Friday, but he will use procedural maneuvers to bring debate to a close – and position the Senate for a Sunday vote — if it appears progress is not being made during the day. The bipartisan group’s amendment has become key to ensuring that the measure will actually garner the 60 votes needed to prevent any GOP-led filibuster of the bill. The group, led by Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), appeared close to announcing a deal on their amendment Thursday night, and sources said the package was likely to trim more than $100 billion from the mammoth measure. While Republicans have been more vocal in their opposition to provisions in the bill funding programs that are not considered stimulative, several Democrats, including Nelson and Sen. Kent Conrad (N.D.), have demanded that a substantial amount be stripped from the bill before they agree to vote for it. Reid needs all 58 members of the Democratic caucus as well as two Republicans to pass the bill.

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