In a major victory for President Barack Obama, the Senate approved the $787 billion economic stimulus bill late Friday night by a vote of 60-38.
The bill, which includes tax cuts, and billions in federal spending, now awaits Obama's signature on Monday.
Three Republicans who supported the measure on earlier votes once again cast their votes for the stimulus package. And, as expected, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, provided the necessary 60th vote for passage. He cast his vote at 10:46 p.m. after the Senate held the vote open for several hours while he flew back from his home state.
Voting in the Senate started at 5:30 p.m., but Brown was attending his mother's wake at the time and could not secure a commercial flight back to Washington. Eager to ensure the bill's passage, the White House stepped in and arranged for Brown's flight back.
Brown now will return to Ohio on an Air Force plane for his mother's funeral Saturday.
Only 98 senators voted because there is no second senator from Minnesota yet seated, and Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., who has brain cancer but came to the Capitol earlier in the week to vote on procedural motions, did not vote.
An earlier Senate version of the bill passed the 61-37. In that vote, as with today's, the only Republicans to support the bill were Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa.
Earlier today, the House passed the stimulus bill by a vote of 246-183, although a week of negotiations and lobbying by President Obama failed to convince a single Republican to support the bill.
Republicans who don't support the bill continued to have scathing words about it, but many consider the fight over the stimulus to be lost.
"This debate is coming to an end and it really never started," complained Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., referring to the short amount of time they had to review the bill, which was completed and posted online just before 11 p.m. Thursday.
Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., who withdrew his nomination to be Obama's secretary of commerce yesterday, also criticized the plan.
"What was initially advertised as a well-intended effort to boost economic growth has become sidetracked by misplaced spending and lack of attention to the true problems facing the nation, especially housing. Massive amounts of money will be spent years after this bill is signed into law, thereby undermining claims that it is stimulative," Gregg said in a written statement. "This bill, therefore, is not timely, targeted, and temporary, which is what a stimulus bill should be."
But Democrats continued to tout the plan.
Speaking to reporters after the House voted, an exultant House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., hailed the passage of the stimulus as "transformational for our country." Surrounded by her Democratic colleagues, Pelosi thanked Obama for his efforts in the stimulus bill.
"He did something faster than any other president in history. ... I salute him for his leadership," Pelosi said.
In response to a question by a reporter as to what the president thought about the House passage of the stimulus bill, Obama gave a thumbs up as he walked to Air Force One for his family weekend retreat in Chicago. The president did not react to another observation that the bill didn't get one Republican vote.