Senate Sends Stimulus to Obama
After holding the vote open for more than five hours, the Senate gave final approval to a $787 billion economic stimulus bill on a 60-38 vote at 10:46 p.m. Friday. President Barack Obama plans to sign the landmark recovery package into law on Monday.
Though the vote began at 5:30 pm, Democratic leaders waited for Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) to return from a memorial service for his mother in Ohio. The vote was so close they could not afford to lose his vote.
Sixty votes were needed to overcome a budget point of order raised by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
By unanimous consent, the Senate agreed that if 60 votes were reached on the point of order, the measure would be considered passed.
The bill 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 began as an $816 billion measure in the House and grew to more than $920 billion in the Senate before a group of moderate Republicans and Democrats demanded cuts of more than $130 billion.
In the end, only three Congressional Republicans Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Arlen Specter (Pa.) and Olympia Snowe (Maine) voted for the measure. 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. Kennedy voted earlier this week when the Senate passed its version of the bill.
Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who stepped down Thursday as Obamas nominee to be Commerce secretary, voted against the bill, saying it falls short of what is needed.