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US Senate clears Obama's $829 billion stimulus package

Lalit K Jha in Washington | February 11, 2009 01:48 IST
Last Updated: February 11, 2009 01:49 IST


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The United States Senate on Tuesday passed Barack Obama's economic recovery plan, the $829 billion stimulus bill, which the President said would create four million jobs and was vital for reviving the crisis-hit economy. Amid strong Republican opposition, the bill was passed by a roll call vote of 61-37.

The House of Representative has already passed it. Since there are sharp differences between the two, leaders of both Chambers of the US Congress House of Representative and the Senate would now have to sit down together for a conference for another round of negotiations, so that both the bills could be merged into one.

Once that is done and re-approved by the House of Representative and the Senate, the bill officially called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill would be sent to the White House for the President to sign it into law. Obama wants to get it done before this weekend. Meanwhile, like the House of Representatives, the Bill failed to get significant support of the opposition Republicans.

Even by frantic lobbying by majority Democrats and those by the White House, the bill could muster the support of just three Republicans; giving it the numbers to barely scrap through the Senate. The three Republican Senators who crossed over to support the President in his stimulus package were Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

Earlier, addressing his first news conference after assuming office on January 20, Obama said the stimulus plan was 'not perfect', but would create up to 4 million new jobs, 90 per cent of which will be generated by the private sector.

"I think my initial measure of success is creating or saving four million jobs. That's bottom line number one, because if people are working, then they've got enough confidence to make purchases, to make investments," he said.

Calling the current economic crisis the 'worst' since the Great Depression of the last century, Obama had appealed to the Congress to set aside differences and pass the stimulus package as the federal government only can break the 'vicious cycle' gripping the US economy.



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