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Deal or No Deal? House Still Being Briefed

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) officially announced a deal Wednesday afternoon with the House on President Barack Obama’s signature economic stimulus legislation, saying the two chambers had settled on a $789 billion package. But just moments after announcing the agreement, key negotiators signaled that they were still briefing House Members on the details of the package. A joint chamber conference committee was supposed to meet at 3 p.m. to formalize the deal, but that session has been postponed. Reid was joined at the news conference by Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and moderate Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), as well as the three Republican Senators who were integral to negotiating the bill — Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.). “The difference between the Senate and House versions have been resolved. We’ve been able to bridge those differences,” Reid said. “This has been a give and take; the House is part of the arrangement.” None of the participants in the press conference took any questions. Reid said a floor vote on the bill could come as early as Thursday. In selling their support, Reid said the bill would create 3.5 million jobs, while Collins noted that it spends $150 billion on infrastructure projects. Collins added that 35 percent of the bill’s $789 billion price tag was for “tax relief.” Specter, who has been taking hits from Republicans and faces a possible GOP primary in his planned 2010 re-election bid, described his intention to vote for this bill as “obviously very difficult.” “My preference would have been for Sen. McCain’s bill,” Specter said, in reference to legislation introduced by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that was heavy on tax cuts and half the cost of the deal he agreed to. “But in a legislature, you don’t get everything you want.”

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