Thursday, February 7, 2008

Senate could act on stimulus plan next week

House now backs stimulus package for Seniors and vets

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Economic stimulus legislation aimed at helping avert a U.S. recession might not be passed by the U.S. Senate until as late as Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Thursday.

"It would be good if we can finish it today. We may not be able to; procedurally we may have to wait until tomorrow or even Tuesday," Reid said.

On Wednesday, Senate Republicans blocked a $158 billion stimulus measure, largely over objections to providing jobless benefits to long-term unemployed people, a measure backed by Democrats and opposed by President George W. Bush.

But Democrats and Republicans appeared to have agreed to expand a House of Representatives-passed stimulus bill so that rebate checks can be given to retirees and disabled veterans who have little or no earned income.

"We don't have a way forward yet," Reid said after holding private talks with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Reid said those conversations will continue.

Late on Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that chamber was "very receptive" to adding cash payments to retirees and disabled veterans to the $146 billion economic stimulus bill it passed last week, which was backed by Bush.

(Reporting by Donna Smith and Richard Cowan, Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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