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Divided Senate Considers Economic Stimulus Bill

  • VOA News

The U.S. Senate has begun debate on a massive economic stimulus plan that has faced opposition from minority Republicans.

President Barack Obama has urged lawmakers to not let "modest differences" delay the passage of the measure, which calls for about 900 billion dollars in new spending and tax cuts.

A version of the bill was approved in the House of Representatives last week, without a single Republican voting for it. The bill is facing similar resistance in the Senate.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell today said the measure should be "dramatically different" from the House version . He said it should be revised to target different priorities and should provide more tax cuts.

The House version called for spending and tax cuts totaling 819 billion dollars.

Earlier, Mr. Obama said he expects more banks to fail before the troubled U.S. financial system stabilizes.

In an interview (with NBC-TV) broadcast today, the president said it is likely that banks have not acknowledged all the losses they will experience. He said some banks, in his words, "won't make it."

President Obama also says he has asked Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to set clear guidelines for financial institutions that receive assistance from the federal government. Last week, Mr. Obama criticized companies that paid big bonuses to their executives while they were asking for federal aid.

The U.S. economy -- the world's biggest -- is in a recession. The country lost two-point-six million jobs last year and already has seen tens of thousands more layoffs this year.

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