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US Congress Closes in on Final Stimulus Deal བོད་སྐད།

U.S. congressional leaders are engaged in intense talks to reach agreement on a final economic stimulus bill.

Leaders of both the House and Senate say they expect a massive $800 billion package to be finalized by the end of this week.

Negotiators are trying to reach a compromise between the Senate's $838 billion plan, which was passed on Tuesday, and an $819 billion plan passed earlier by the House of Representatives. Republicans in the Democratic-controlled Congress are demanding that the final bill be more like the Senate version, which includes less federal spending and more tax breaks.

The White House is continuing to publicly pressure U.S. lawmakers to have a final stimulus plan ready for President Barack Obama's signature by next week.

Mr. Obama on Wednesday will visit a construction site in (the eastern state of) Virginia, where he will again push for quick passage of the stimulus bill to help create jobs and revive the nation's ailing economy. He has warned that the nation's economic crisis could become a "catastrophe" if the government does not act quickly.

Separately, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is testifying before a Senate committee Wednesday on policies to deal with the country's financial and housing crisis.

On Tuesday, Geithner unveiled plans to use up to $2 trillion to help the U.S. banking system.

Geithner proposed a number of initiatives, including expanding the size of a lending program that supports the market for consumer and business loans. He also proposed government financing for private firms to buy up bad real estate assets.