The economic stimulus legislation backed by President Barack Obama has passed a key test in the Senate over strong Republican opposition, the AP reports. Republican Sens. Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Arlen Specter all broke ranks and supported revised legislation, making the final vote 61-36 over a procedural hurdle raised by the GOP. The vote was one more than the 60 needed.
In the hours before the vote, Sen. John Thune and other Republican opponents attacked the bill as too costly, and unlikely to boost the economy. "This is a spending bill, not a stimulus bill," said Sen. Lamar Alexander. Still, the $827 billion bill is expected to pass the Senate tomorrow. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vowed to have it on Obama's desk by "the end of the week."