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Stimulus Conferees Adjourn, Proclaim the Deal Done

The House-Senate Conference Committee working out the final details of an economic stimulus package adjourned Wednesday evening, with chief conferee Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) confirming afterward that the deal was done.

House Appropriations Chairman Dave Obey (D-Wis.), a conferee who was in charge of writing the original House version of the bill, also confirmed following conference’s adjourn that the agreement had been reached providing for an $789 billion package. Legislative staff was planning to work through the night to finish writing the bill’s language.

The conference committee unfolded with few fireworks or surprises. But conferee Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, complained about a lack of GOP input in reaching the final agreement, causing a testy Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to shoot back in disagreement.

“We didn’t have a chance to negotiate,” Grassley said, while Reid looked on, obviously irritated. “I hope this is the last conference we have where we have this kind of partisanship.”

Retorted Reid: “We spent a lot of time on the Senate floor” debating this bill. “I guess partisanship is in the eye of the beholder,” he added.

Additionally, Reid responded to a charge by conferee Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) that the stimulus bill would lead to deficits.

“No one needs to lecture me, or us, on deficits, because you invented them. Don’t lecture us,” Reid said.

The House and Senate are expected to approve the package later this week. The House could vote as early as Thursday.

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