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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The United States Senate passed a stimulus package worth US$838 billion on Tuesday, aimed at creating millions of new jobs and steering the economy out of the recession. The Democrat-controlled Senate passed the bill by a vote of 61-37, with only three Republicans supporting the plan. The move comes in the midst of a recession, which has claimed 3.6 million jobs in the US.

Before the bill can be signed into law by the president, the Senate package first has to be reconciled with a different version of the plan that was adopted by the House of Representatives. The main differences between the two versions are over spending priorities and how to expand Medicaid, the medicinal program. The Senate version would also give more resources to tax cuts, whereas the House's plan would devote more money to local governments and schools.

President Barack Obama welcomed the news, calling it a "good start". "That's good news and I want to thank all of the members of the Senate who have moved the process forward," he said, speaking at a town hall meeting in Fort Myers. "We've still got to get the House bill and the Senate bill to match up before it gets sent to my desk, so we got a little more work to do over the next couple of days."

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Most Republicans voted against the stimulus package. Shortly before the Senate vote, Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell spoke against the stimulus plan, speaking for most of his Republican colleagues: "This bill misses the mark. It is full of waste; we have no assurance it will create jobs or revive the economy," he said. "The only thing we know for sure is that it increases our debt and locks in bigger and bigger interest payments every single year."

The only Republicans who voted for the bill were Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, and Pennsylvania's Senator Arlen Specter.

Wall Street reacted negatively to the passage of the bill, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down over three hundred points in afternoon trading.

 
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