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Kohl, Feingold vote to move mega spending bill forward

U.S. senators are expected to pass their version of the $838 billion spending package today (Tuesday).

Wisconsin Democrats U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl and U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold set the stage for the vote Monday by joining 59 others in cutting off debate.

Thirty-six Republicans voted against advancing the package, calling it a spending bill instead of a stimulus.

After today, a conference committee will iron out the differences between the Senate and House versions.

After campaigning for the plan in Elkhart Ind., President Barack Obama told the nation Monday night that a failure to act would, "turn a crisis into a catastrophe."

Writing in the Janesville Gazette, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Congress was making the most serious recession in generations worse.

He said the bill, "hastens the explosion of entitlement spending, adds to our crushing debt burden, and guarantees future tax hikes."

Both houses want billions in spending for public works projects, health care, oil independence, federal benefits, and tax cuts for lower-income people.

However, there are numerous spending differences in the two packages. A new estimate released Monday said Wisconsin governments would get more than $500 million under the Senate's plan.