By Michael Kranish, Globe Staff
The stimulus bill passed a major test in the Senate late this afternoon -- barely.
The compromise worked out late Friday won 61 votes -- one more than needed to get past a make-or-break procedural vote -- with the support of three Republicans, all 56 Democrats, and the two independents who usually vote with the party.
The Republicans were Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who were deeply involved in the negotiations last week that sliced some spending and tax cuts from a plan that had ballooned to close to $940 billion.
The 36 no votes all came from Republicans.
One Senate seat, being contested in the courts in Minnesota, is vacant. Two Republicans, John Cornyn of Texas and Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, did not vote.
Gregg, President Obama's nominee for commerce secretary, said last week he would not vote on any matter until his nomination is settled.
The Senate is to give its final approval on Tuesday to its $838 billion stimulus bill, then a House-Senate conference committee would try to negotiate differences with the $819 billion version passed by the House on Jan. 28 without a single Republican vote in favor.
(Moments before the vote, the Congressional Budget Office issued a new estimate that put the cost at $838 billion, an increase from the $827 billion figure from last week, the Associated Press reported.)
One major difference between the two bills is the amount of direct aid to cash-strapped state governments.
The Senate version of the bill would provide about $39 billion, about half the $79 billion in the House measure.
For Massachusetts, that means that the Senate would give $640 million to the Bay State, while House version would provide $1.3 billion, according to Will Straw, an analyst at the liberal think tank, Center for American Progress.
The state aid fiscal is only one part of the money that would go to Massachusetts. Overall, a variety of spending measures, Medicaid assistance, and tax cuts would provide at least $12.1 billion to the state under the Senate bill, compared to about $11.2 billion under the House measure, Straw said. Those figures account for about two-thirds of the money in the stimulus bill; the remainder cannot be easily quantified on a per-state basis.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.