WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of senators reached a tentative compromise agreement on a $780 billion economic stimulus package on Friday night after making major cuts totaling $110 billion in several spending programs.
The deal emerged amid more bleak economic news revealing the worst job loss in 34 years and intense lobbying by President Obama, who has made the initiative a cornerstone of his agenda.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate was likely to continue work on the bill over the weekend.
The new stimulus proposal includes $45.5 billion in funding for infrastructure projects to fix the nation’s aging highways, roads and bridges, tax cuts for lower-and-middle class families and tax incentives for businesses, $87 billion for a temporary increase in the Medicaid matching rate, $6 billion for special education programs and $14 billion for Pell grants to help low-income college students.
If the Senate passes the bill, it will head to conference negotiations where lawmakers must reconcile differences with a $819 billion House bill that passed last week.
The $780 billion compromise is significantly smaller than the measure that senators debated during the day, which had ballooned to approximately $940 billion. It capped a tense week of debate and negotiations in which Republicans refused to budge in their opposition to the bill, arguing it was laden with too many pet projects and contained spending that was not stimulative.