US senators in tentative $780-B stimulus deal

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Feb 07 2009 09:06 AM | Updated as of Feb 07 2009 05:15 PM

WASHINGTON - US senators on Friday reached a tentative compromise agreement on an emergency economic stimulus package worth around $780 billion, after days of intense debate and negotiations.

Under pressure from the White House and surging job losses, a group of moderate Democrats and Republicans came up with the compromise after meeting behind closed doors.

"Our bipartisan group worked long and hard going line by line, dollar by dollar, to reduce spending from the original bill," Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson, a Democrat, said on the Senate floor as he outlined the agreement.

"We trimmed the fat, fried the bacon, and milked the sacred cows."

Nelson said the exercise saved $110 billion. "The total package is $780 billion," he said.

The remaining bill "consists of tax cuts for the middle class and specific job-creating investments providing long-lasting economic benefits," he added.

Earlier Friday, the package was estimated at $937 billion.

"Our country faces a grave economic crisis, and the American people want us to work together. They don't want to see us dividing along partisan lines on the most serious crisis facing our country," said Republican Senator Susan Collins.

"This compromise greatly improves the bill. It will help our economy recover from a dangerous recession. It will help Americans throughout this country who are struggling because they've lost their jobs."