In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Senators Announce Stimulus Agreement -- But When's the Conference?

Collins said that she was proud that the price tag was now lower than either the House or Senate versions had been going into this. So that means that the negotiators didn't meet each other halfway, but actually went slightly further below the $838 billion Senate version.

Collins also took pride in the $150 billion in infrastructure spending that was included in the final bill, though that higher number also reflects environmental and broadband programs in addition to money for roads, bridges, and trains.

Specter called the bill an important step in turning the economy around, but he couldn't quite summon up a ringing endorsement. "My preference would have been for Senator McCain's bill of $450 billion in tax cuts. But in a legislature you don't get everything you want," Specter said.

In an indication of the tough re-election fight Specter is likely to face in Pennsylvania next year, he also described himself as echoing the stimulus endorsement given by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce - "a very Republican group," he reminded the TV cameras.

There was also an effort to make sure expectations didn't get too high. "This is a turning point," Joe Lieberman said, in perhaps the best example. "We're not going to get back to where our economy was overnight."