WASHINGTON (AP) - Amid stunning new job losses and the latest
bank failure, key senators and the White House reached tentative
agreement Friday night on an economic stimulus measure at the heart
of President Barack Obama's recovery plan.
Two officials said the emerging agreement was for a bill with a $780 billion price tag, but there was no immediate confirmation.
The tentative agreement capped a tense day of back room negotiations in which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, joined by White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, sought to attract the support of enough Republicans to give the measure the needed 60-vote majority.
Officials strongly suggested that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's vote would be needed to assure passage. The Massachusetts Democrat,
battling a brain tumor, has been in Florida in recent days and has not been in the Capitol since suffering a seizure on Inauguration Day more than two weeks ago. The senator's office did not comment.
Reid met privately in the Capitol with members of his rank-and-file to present the proposed deal.
At $780 billion, the legislation would be smaller than the measure that cleared the House on a party-line vote last week. It also would mean a sharp cut from the bill that has been the subject of Senate debate for a week. That measure stood at $937 billion.
Beyond the numbers, though, any agreement would mark a victory
for the new president and would keep Democratic leaders on track to
fulfill their promise of delivering him a bill to sign by the end of next week.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)