Wrangling over stimulus bill continues

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(AP) - New York Sen. Chuck Schumer predicted Sunday that an economic stimulus bill will pass Congress by the end of the coming week because the stakes are too high to let it fail.

Schumer says there are only minor differences in the House and Senate versions of the economic stimulus package and that Democrats in the House and Senate and the three Republican senators supporting the effort all understand the need for a bill. He says the value of the bill after a compromise is reached would remain around $820 billion.

Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby says he remains opposed to the stimulus measure. Shelby says the economy's biggest need is to straighten out the banking system, and until that's done, the economy is going to continue to struggle.

Lawrence Summers, one of President Barack Obama's top economic advisers, also forecast Sunday a difficult struggle with Congress over Senate cuts of $40 billion for state and local governments from the administration's massive spending and tax cut package to stimulate the failing economy.

The Senate version of the plan - designed to bring the economy out of the worst downward spiral since the Great Depression - is expected to pass the Senate on Tuesday. The House already passed its version of the measure.

Lawmakers were likely to begin reconciling those differences later this week, with Obama still pressing to have the stimulus measure on his desk for signing by mid-month.

According to Summers, chairman of the White House National Economic Council, without the infusion of federal money to state and local governments, the country may still face "a vicious cycle of layoffs, falling home values, lower property taxes, more layoffs."

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