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Brown’s Vote to Put Stimulus Over the Top

The Senate was waiting Friday evening for Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) to return from a memorial service for his mother to complete a final vote on a $787 billion economic stimulus bill — an indication of just how close the vote is.

Though it began at 5:30 p.m., the vote is not expected to end until 10:30 or later tonight, in order to accommodate Brown.

As it currently stands, the measure has 59 aye votes and 38 nay votes, but 60 are needed to overcome a budget point of order raised by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

By unanimous consent, the Senate agreed to vote once on the point of order, and if 60 votes were achieved, the measure would be considered passed.

Once Brown votes in favor of the bill, as expected, the measure will be enrolled and sent to President Barack Obama, who plans to sign it on Monday.

The House passed the legislation Friday afternoon on a party-line 246-183 vote.

The measure marks the second massive Congressional effort — and the first for the Obama administration — to prevent further erosion of economic conditions in the country. In October, Congress passed a $700 billion financial industry rescue package.

The stimulus measure began as an $816 billion package in the House and grew to more than $920 billion in the Senate before a group of centrist Republicans and Democrats demanded cuts of more than $130 billion.

Only three Congressional Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Arlen Specter (Pa.) and Olympia Snowe (Maine) — voted for the bill. Their votes were needed — along with 57 Members of the Senate Democratic caucus — to reach 60 votes in that chamber. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), who is battling brain cancer, did not vote.

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