Daily Video

February 6, 2009

Senators Divided by Stimulus Bill

President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats are working hard to pass an economic stimulus bill, but they face heavy opposition from Senate Republicans who object to the bill’s high price tag of at least $800 billion. Supporters of the stimulus package say that it will provide money for much-needed investment in infrastructure projects and in industries like health care and education. Opponents argue, however, that the cost of the bill is much too high and believe that more tax cuts are needed to stimulate the economy. Democrats need the votes of 60 senators in order for the bill to pass without the chance of a filibuster, when senators can block a bill from passing. Both sides of the debate are engaging in intense negotiations over cost with the knowledge that Americans are desperate for a solution to the economic problems currently plaguing the nation. In the first part of this video, NewsHour correspondent Kwame Holman reports on the heated debate taking place on Capitol Hill.


“The president made a very strong case yesterday to me for a package of sufficient size to jolt the economy. We don’t want a package that is too small because that will end up just wasting money. On the other hand, we’re very leery of having an enormous package that would not be necessary and would just boost the federal deficit.” – Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine “We have strayed badly from original intent of creating a situation in America to reverse the terrible decline and economic ditch we find the American economy in, to the point where we have had policy — spending programs and policy provisions which have nothing to do with stimulating the economy and creating jobs.” – Senator John McCain, R-Arizona “The time for talk is over. The time for action is now, because we know that, if we do not act, a bad situation will become dramatically worse. Crisis could turn into catastrophe for families and businesses across the country.” – President Barack Obama

Warm Up Questions

1. What is the Senate?

2. Can you name any of your state senators?

3. What is a filibuster? Why is it important to get 60 votes in the Senate?

Discussion Questions

1. In what ways has the state of the economy affected your community, if at all?

2. Do you think it is fair that a bill needs 60 votes to pass and not just a majority (51)? How does this affect how the Congress works?

3. Make a prediction: do you think that the economy will be better or worse a year from now?

Additional Resources

Read the transcript

In-depth coverage: The First 100 Days

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