The Senate has approved an $838.2-billion economic stimulus bill by a 61-37 vote. The margin was slightly higher than the 60-vote minimum needed for approval, as Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both of Maine, and Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter, joined all 58 Democrats to vote for the bill.
The Senate package now must be reconciled with the estimated $819.5-billion stimulus measure that the House passed on Jan. 28. The House bill has about $160 billion for construction programs and the Senate's contains about $130 billion.
Shortly after the vote the Senate quickly named its representatives to the conference with the House, selecting Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Thad Cochran (Miss.) Appropriations' top Republican, and Charles Grassley (Iowa), the ranking GOP member on Finance.
The House was expected to name its conferees soon.