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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 Obama’s nominee to be Commerce secretary, voted against the bill, saying it “falls short of what is needed.”

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