Senate Passes Stimulus Bill

Uncertainty remains about how long conference will take.

The U.S. Senate Tuesday passed the economic stimulus bill. It is expected to cost about $840 billion. Almost immediately, a small group of lawmakers began to negotiate a compromise between what both the House and Senate passed. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said a smaller group of conferees will help things move forward more quickly.

Senate Democrats appointed Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Reid as conferees. Republicans chose Appropriations ranking member Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and Senate Finance ranking member Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

House conferees will be Reps. David Obey, D-Wis., Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., Henry Waxman, D-Calif., Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., and Mike Camp, R-Mich.

As to when a final bill can be expected it depends on who you talk to. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said he doesn't expect a protracted conference but said it could stretch into next week, erasing part of the scheduled President's Day recess.

"Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and maybe Wednesday and Thursday next week may be needed to pass the package in both chambers," Hoyer said.

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