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White House provides plane to senator for key stimulus vote

  • Story Highlights
  • White House provides plane to Democratic senator so he can vote on stimulus bill
  • Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, may represent the decisive 60th vote on measure
  • Brown will vote between wake and funeral in Ohio for his mother, who died at age 88
  • White House official says loaner is a "small government plane"
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The White House has provided the use of a government airplane to a key Democratic senator in order to ensure the availability of what may prove to be the deciding 60th vote in favor of the $787 billion economic stimulus package.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, has returned to his home state to attend a wake for his 88-year-old mother, who died February 2 from complications from leukemia. At the end of the wake, Brown will be flown from Mansfield, Ohio, to Andrews Air Force Base.

After he casts his vote, he will return to Ohio for his mother's funeral early Saturday.

The plane is being provided by the White House, Brown's office said, because the vote is considered "official business," and there are no commercial flights available that would allow him to cast the vote and return to Ohio for his mother's funeral Saturday morning.

A White House official refused to provide a cost estimate for the military plane, but acknowledged "it will be a higher cost than if he were flying commercial."

The official said it is a "small government plane."

"Taking immediate action to save or create 3.5 million jobs and get America's economy moving again is a top priority for Ohio and the nation," said the White House official. "Given that no commercial flights were available that would allow Sen. Brown to make the vote and to attend services memorializing his mother, the administration provided government transportation to ensure that he could do so."

While the final Senate vote on the stimulus plan began at 5:30 p.m. ET, senators are expected to be allowed to vote until after 10:30 p.m., giving Brown enough time to return to the Capitol.

CNN's Ed Henry and Ted Barrett contributed to this report

All About Job LossesEconomic StimulusSherrod Brown

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