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Published:February 5th, 2009 10:00 EST
Will 'Buy American' bite the bullet?

Will 'Buy American' bite the bullet?

By SOP newswire

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says a final vote on President Barack Obama`s economic stimulus package could happen as early as Thursday.

The final vote is expected after senators unanimously approved an amendment Wednesday to provide a $15,000 tax credit for homebuyers.

The provision, sponsored by Republican Senator Johnny Isakson, would add $19 billion to Mr. Obama`s $900 billion plan.

The Senate also unanimously approved a change in the so-called "Buy American" provision that passed in the U.S. House version of the plan.  The measure requires that all public works projects funded under the stimulus package use only U.S.-produced materials. The change approved Wednesday requires the provision be "applied in a manner consistent with U.S. obligations under international agreements."

Supporters of the initial measure say it would boost the U.S. manufacturing sector. But President Obama and other critics say it could lead to a trade war.  

The European Union has also voiced opposition to the measure.

The stimulus package has come under fire from many Republicans who say it is filled with too many spending measures and not enough tax cuts. Mr. Obama accused those critics Wednesday of pushing the "very same failed theories that helped lead us into this crisis."  

But Mr. Obama also met privately with a handful of senators who are pushing for cuts in spending measures they say will not encourage job creation.  

In an opinion piece in the Washington Post newspaper Wednesday, the president defends the package as "a strategy for America`s long-term growth and opportunity" in such areas as renewable energy, health care and education. He warns the nation`s economy could suffer irreversible damage if action is not taken soon.  

The Senate version, if passed, will have to be reconciled with the House-approved measure before it goes to Mr. Obama for his signature.