With the support of three Republican Senators, President Barack Obama's massive stimulus plan has cleared a key hurdle in the final passage of the $829 billion economic recovery package in the Senate which will vote on the bill on Tuesday.
Following several days of debate the Senate, by a 61-36 roll call vote, voted last evening for cloture on the mega stimulus package, thus setting the stage for a final vote on it on Tuesday. This came a few hours before the prime time live press conference of Obama.
Cloture, a legislative term, simply means bringing the debate to a quick end, thus ending a filibuster; for which the Democrats needed three-fifth of the full Senate, i.e. 60 votes.
The three Republicans who voted along with the Democrats were Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and Arlen Specter; thus making the Senate passage of the bill almost a certainty.
The return of Senator Edward Kennedy, who is suffering from cancer, helped in it too.
The House of Representatives, the other Chamber of the US Congress, has already passed the bill.
However, since there is a significant difference between the two legislations passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives, the leaders of the two chambers now need to sit together to make the bill into one by shorting out their differences through a legislative process, called conference.