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US Senate, House reach agreement on stimulus package
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U.S. Senate and House have reached an agreement on President Barack Obama's massive stimulus package, lawmakers said in Washington on Wednesday.

Senator Susan Collins said the cost of the bill will be 789 billion dollars, smaller than the Senate's 838-billion-dollar bill approved on Tuesday, as well as an 819-billion-dollar version of the legislation passed last month by the House.

"I'm particularly pleased that we have produced an agreement that has the top line of 789 billion dollars, that it's less than either the House- or the Senate-passed bills," said Collins at a press conference.

"Overall, there is about 150 billion dollars in infrastructure in this bill, when you add together transportation, environmental, broadband and other projects," said Collins.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hailed the progress. "I'm pleased to announce that we've been able to bridge those differences," he said, adding that he hopes for a vote in both chambers of Congress as early as Thursday.

"Like any negotiation, this involved give and take, and if you don't mind my saying so, that's an understatement," he said. "But the agreement we've reached stays faithful to the principles I've outlined."

According to the lawmakers, 35 percent of the bill would be tax cuts, and 65 percent would be spending.

Tax credits for workers would be cut to 400 dollars per individual and 800 dollars per family.

Once the final bill is passed by both chambers, it would be sent to President Obama to be signed into law. Obama has set a Feb. 16 deadline for the package.

Earlier on Wednesday, Obama urged the Congress to urgently get a final stimulus bill.

"Now's the time to take bold and swift action," Obama said during a visit to a construction site in northern Virginia near Washington D.C. to rally more public support for his stimulus bill.

"We've got to get a final version to my desk so that I can sign it and so that here in Virginia and across the country, the people can use it," Obama said.

He also noted that Caterpillar's chief executive has told him the company will rehire some laid-off workers if the stimulus bill passes.

(Xinhua News Agency February 12, 2009)

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