Senate passes stimulus bill, reconciliation with House bill to begin

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Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT)
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT)
The Senate Tuesday passed an $838 billion economic stimulus package by a vote of 61-37. The bill now moves to a dual-chamber committee to resolve differences between the legislation and a recently passed House stimulus package.

Like the House bill, the Senate package contains $87 billion in much-needed state Medicaid funding. With this funding, states will be able to lift many recently imposed Medicaid eligibility restrictions, returning Medicaid and nursing home services to many seniors. Some differences between the two packages could make President Obama's goal of achieving resolution by this President's Day weekend difficult.

To help the reconciliation process along, Senate leadership reportedly has chosen to send only five senators to the negotiating table. They are Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) of the Senate Finance Committee, and Sens. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) of the Appropriations Committee.