A bipartisan group of senators said Thursday they were going "line by line" through the economic stimulus bill as they try to reach a compromise on an amendment to cut some spending from the package.
Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Indiana, said there is a "backbone" to a deal, but the details were being worked out between the 12 Democrats and five Republicans at the meeting.
"It's been a painstaking, very thorough, very comprehensive process," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.
Republicans have objected to some provisions in the bill that they say have nothing to do with stimulating the economy.
Collins said she was originally in favor of a bill that would have cost about $650 billion, but after meeting with President Obama, she was convinced of the need for a proposal that would be in the neighborhood of $800 billion.
Obama held a series of one-on-one meetings in the Oval Office on Wednesday with key senators still on the fence.
Collins said she went through some specific programs with the president to see which ones he would be willing to cut.
"But I will tell you, particularly on my side of the aisle, there is a vigorous debate over what the size of the package should be," she said Thursday.
"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," Collins said as Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska, nodded in agreement.
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