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US Senate Continues to Debate Compromise Economic Plan   


The U.S. Senate is holding an unusual Saturday session to consider a massive proposal to stimulate the nation's economy. Democrats and Republicans in the Senate agreed on a scaled-back plan late Friday.

The legislation totals about $780 billion, about $110 billion less than the plan Democrats had been promoting. Senate leaders say they have the votes to pass it.

President Barack Obama, in his weekly address, is praising lawmakers for reaching the compromise, and urges them to act quickly to pass the bill.

"The scale and scope of this plan is right, and the time for action is now," he said. "Because if we do not move swiftly to put this plan in motion, our economic crisis could become a national catastrophe. Millions of Americans will lose their jobs, their homes and their health care. Millions more will have to put their dreams on hold."

Republican leaders still say the plan is wasteful and too expensive, and is not likely to work. Some Democrats have also called for less spending. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, in his party's Saturday response, says cutting Americans' taxes would be a more effective way to stimulate the economy.

"But the Democrats have a different philosophy," he said. "Instead of leaving money in the family checkbook, they want to send it to Washington, run it through a slow and inefficient government, and hope that does some good."

President Obama says numerous tax cuts during the Bush administration did little to help the U.S. economy.

"Let's be clear," he said. "We cannot expect relief from the tired old theories that, in eight short years, doubled the national debt, threw our economy into a tailspin, and led us into this mess in the first place."

If the bill passes the Senate, a conference committee will work out the differences between this legislation and a version that passed the House of Representatives in January, and will send it to Mr. Obama for his signature. The House bill totaled $819 billion, and did not receive a single Republican vote.

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