William Branigin and Michael D. Shear
The Washington Post
February 10, 2009

The Senate today passed an economic stimulus bill that President Obama and congressional Democrats called crucial to pull the U.S. economy out of its downward spiral but that drew scant support from Republicans.

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Senators voted 61 to 37 to approve the massive bill, which the Congressional Budget Office now says would cost $838 billion over 10 years. Only three Republicans voted in favor of it. In the House, an $819 billion version of the package passed on Jan. 28 with no Republican support.

A procedural vote in the Senate yesterday cleared the way for final passage today. In that 61-36 vote, the same three moderate Republicans senators — Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania — broke with their party leaders and supported the legislation.

The package now heads to a House-Senate conference to resolve differences between the two versions. Obama, who hopes to sign the resulting bill into law before Presidents’ Day on Monday, has publicly encouraged negotiators in recent days to restore some education provisions that were stripped from the Senate version to reduce its overall cost.

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