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US/World financial crisis

Obama stimulus package passed, but Republicans oppose

Article published on the 2009-02-14 Latest update 2009-02-14 11:45 TU

Happy now? Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Representative Steny Hoyer after the vote(Photo: Reuters)

Happy now? Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Representative Steny Hoyer after the vote
(Photo: Reuters)

The US Congress approved a 787-billion-dollar (615-billion-euro) stimulus package late on Friday, despite opposition from all but three Republican lawmakers. The measures include spending on public works and extending unemployment benefits, along with tax cuts, wich were added in an unsuccessful attempt to win Republican support.

With Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy ill with cancer, his party mobilised all possible votes. Senator Sherrod Brown rushed from his late mother's memorial service in his home state of Ohio to cast his vote three hours and 39 minutes after the previous lawmaker had done so.

The 60-38 vote in the Senate, which followed a 246-183 vote in the House of Representatives, gave Obama the power to sign the bill into law before the 16 February deadline he had set himself.

His appeals for an two-party front to face the economic crisis failed. All the House Republicans opposed the package and only three supported it in the Senate.

The Republicans complained that they had not had time to study the bill but their principal objection was to the millions of dollars of public spending.

"This isn't Monopoly money," said Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "It's real. It adds up, and it has to be paid back, by our children and by their children.

The party's number two in the House of Representatives, Eric Canter, said that the package is "loaded with wasteful deficit spending on the majority's favorite government programmes".

"Today, with final passage of this bill, we start putting Americans back to work," House Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said.

Obama warned business leaders that "it's only the beginning of what I think all of you understand is going to be a long and difficult process of turning our economy around".