The 11-10 vote, which included no Republicans, sends the $66.4 billion package to the floor of the Senate for consideration by the entire body.
Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said the full Senate would begin debate on the proposal next Tuesday. Daschle also expressed hope that the Congress could still send a final compromise stimulus package to the president by Nov. 30.
The Senate bill includes rebate checks for millions of low-income Americans, some business tax relief but much more spending than the House version. It also extends unemployment benefits by 13 weeks for laid-off workers and provides a 75 percent federal match for health insurance policies.
Many GOP senators expressed concern at the intensely partisan debate in the committee.
“I’m left asking why we’re stuck in this partisan ditch,” said Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee.
Even if the full Senate does adopt the Democratic proposal, negotiators will then need to work out a compromise with the House version.
The House voted 216 to 214 late last month to approve a Republican-back plan that offered $100 billion in tax cuts. Main provisions of that bill include decreasing the capital gains tax rate from 20 percent to 18 percent, which would cost the U.S. Treasury $10 billion over 10 years; eliminating the corporation alternative minimum tax, which limits corporate tax deductions and would cost $25 billion; and creating a permanent tax break on income earned overseas by U.S. companies at the cost of $21 billion.
In a major address Thursday night, President Bush called on Congress to move quickly to pass an economic stimulus package that would truly spark economic growth.
“Our government has a responsibility to put needless partisanship behind us and meet new challenges: better security for our people and help for those who’ve lost jobs and livelihoods in the attacks that claimed so many lives,” Mr. Bush said. ” I’ve made some proposals to stimulate economic growth, which will create new jobs, and make America less dependent on foreign oil… and I ask Congress to work hard and put a stimulus plan into law to help the American people.”
Although the president has not said whether he would veto the Senate plan, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the Democratic bill needs substantial improvement because it
contains too much spending.
“Obviously, this is not a bill the president thinks will help stimulate the economy … the important thing is for the Senate to take action, to get this bill to conference so that a real stimulus bill can be passed,” Fleischer said.
Both plans do have several key similarities that members hope will serve as a basis for a compromise. All the proposals feature $14 billion in rebate checks for lower-income people and those who didn’t get the full $300, $500 or $600 checks the first time. Both also offer businesses enhanced expensing in some form and aid for the unemployed.