WASHINGTON — The Senate agreement on a roughly $827 billion economic stimulus bill sets up tough negotiations with the House, primarily over tens of billions of dollars in aid to states and local governments, tax provisions, and education, health and renewable energy programs.
Congress is racing to try to finalize the legislation this week.
The price tag for the Senate plan is now only slightly more than the $820 billion cost of the measure adopted by the House. Both plans are intended to blunt the recession with a combination of tax cuts and government spending on public works and other programs to create more than three million jobs.
But the competing bills now reflect substantially different approaches. The House puts greater emphasis on helping states and localities avoid wide-scale cuts in services and layoffs of public employees. The Senate cut $40 billion of that aid from its bill, which is expected to be approved Tuesday.
The Senate plan, reached in an agreement late Friday between Democrats and three moderate Republicans, focuses somewhat more heavily on tax cuts, provides far less generous health care subsidies for the unemployed and lowers a proposed increase in food stamps.
To help allay Republican concerns about the cost, the Senate proposal even scales back President Obama’s signature middle-class tax cut. The Senate plan also creates new tax incentives to encourage Americans to buy homes and cars within the next year.
Republican opponents continued to rail against the stimulus plan on the Senate floor on Saturday, though it appeared they would not have the votes to stop it.
The negotiations in Congress will test whether Democrats, who say they won a mandate in November to pursue their goals, are willing to give up some favored long-term policy initiatives to win over more Republican votes.
The talks will also test whether any but the most moderate Republicans will be willing to support the Obama administration, or whether they will simply recoil in an opposition stance.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was in Williamsburg, Va., on a retreat with her fellow House Democrats on Friday, called the emerging Senate cuts to the stimulus program “very damaging” and said she was “very much opposed to them.” But after the Senate reached a deal, Ms. Pelosi expressed resolve to complete the legislation in the days ahead.
Mr. Obama, who has made the economic recovery effort the centerpiece of his agenda, is expected to take a stronger hand in the negotiations and will embark on an aggressive public lobbying campaign.
He will hold a meeting in Indiana on Monday, followed by a formal White House news conference, the first of his term, in prime time on Monday night. He will pitch the plan again on Tuesday in Florida and on Wednesday in Virginia.
In his weekly radio and Internet address on Saturday, the president praised the Senate deal and urged quick passage of a final bill.
“The time for action is now,” Mr. Obama said. “If we don’t move swiftly to put this plan in motion, our economic crisis could become a national catastrophe.”
Also on Monday, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner is expected to announce the broad outlines of a rescue plan for the financial industry. The administration hopes that the announcement will quiet some critics in Congress who say not enough is being done for the housing sector.
After Senate Democrats reached their deal with moderate Republicans on Friday, Republicans who are more conservative refused to put the legislative process on a fast track.
Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, insisted that the deal required careful deliberation and said he would spend the weekend reviewing it, even though it was all but certain that he would not support the measure.
As a result, the Senate met for a rare Saturday session, and Republicans delivered some of their harshest criticism of Mr. Obama since he took office, suggesting that he was pressing Congress to act irresponsibly by warning of imminent catastrophe.
“In discussing with the American people his approach to the stimulus of our economy, he has first really used some dangerous words,” said Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the No. 2 Republican. Mr. Kyl added, “It seems to me that the president is rather casually throwing out some careless language.”
The majority leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, said Congress would move quickly to get the bill into conference, in hopes of sending the bill to the White House by the week’s end.