Senate clears path for stimulus


Senate Democrats on Monday advanced the $838 billion economic stimulus bill, clearing a major procedural hurdle by a razor thin margin with the help of just three Republicans. A vote on final passage of the bill is expected on Tuesday.

The Senate vote, by 61 to 36, to close debate on the stimulus, symbolized the partisanship that still grips Congress despite President Obama’s call for new cooperation. It also highlighted the rising power of the centrist Republicans who cast the critical votes. […]

If the Senate approves the measure, as expected, negotiations to resolve differences with the $820 billion bill passed by the House are expected to focus in part on the Senate’s decision to cut $40 billion from a state stabilization fund. […]

Just as the Senate was voting, the Congressional Budget Office released a new analysis showing the total cost of the Senate version of the stimulus bill to be $838.2 billion over 10 years, of which $292.5 billion or roughly 35 percent is in the form of tax cuts.

The final roll call is online. As expected Sens. Collins (Maine), Specter (Pa.), and Snowe (Maine) were the only senators to break party ranks, while Sens. Cornyn (Texas) and Gregg (N.H.) did not vote.

Ted Kennedy was on the floor for the vote — the first since Inauguration Day — but left the chamber soon after his “Aye” vote was recorded.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.