The Senate voted 61 to 36 Monday to end debate and move along its version of the economic stimulus package that is estimated to cost $829 million. A vote on final passage has been scheduled for noon Tuesday.
Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., urged his colleagues to support the measure citing the need to stem the growing 7.6% unemployment rate, and help the nation out of the recession. "We must work quickly with the House in conference to reach consensus and put this bill on the president's desk without delay."
If passed a conference committee of Representatives and Senators will be formed to work out the differences in the two versions of the bill. The Senate bill has more tax cuts, while the House version pushes substantial spending increases in education, energy and health care programs. The Senate bill is now considered to be the base bill.
Funding to upgrade the USDA Farm Service Agency computer system will be one of the issues that will have to be worked out. The Senate version was amended to provide $54 million for the upgrade instead of the $171 million that was in the original version. However the House version has $245 million set aside for that project.