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Senators reach deal to cut stimulus bill to $780B

Senate Democrats reached agreement with key Republicans Friday night on an economic stimulus measure at the heart of President Barack Obama's plan for combatting the worst recession in decades.

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WASHINGTON – With job losses soaring nationwide, Senate Democrats reached agreement with key Republicans Friday night on an economic stimulus measure at the heart of President Barack Obama's plan for combatting the worst recession in decades.

"The American people want us to work together. They don't want to see us dividing along partisan lines on the most serious crisis confronting our country," said Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, one of two GOP senators who signaled support for the bill.Officials put the cost of the measure at $780 billion in tax cuts and new spending combined. No details were immediately available, and there appeared to be some confusion even among senators about the price tag as floor debate continued late into the night.

The agreement capped a tense day of backroom negotiations in which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, joined by White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, sought to attract the support of enough Republicans to give the measure the needed 60-vote majority.

In addition to Collins, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said he would vote for the bill. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, remained uncommitted.

Democrat Edward M. Kennedy, who is battling a brain tumor, arrived in Washington in case his vote turned out to be needed. The Massachusetts senator has been in Florida in recent days and has not been in the Capitol since suffering a seizure on Inauguration Day more than two weeks ago.

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