U.S. senate moderates see stimulus near $800 bln

WASHINGTON, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Moderate Republican and Democratic senators said on Thursday they had agreed that the U.S. economic stimulus package should be close to the $800 billion sought by President Barack Obama.

“I think we all respect the president’s number,” Democratic Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana told reporters after a closed-door meeting with more than a dozen colleagues from both parties. That meeting was due to resume later on Thursday.

Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine said Obama, in a meeting with her on Wednesday, had persuaded her that the ultimate bill should be “in the neighborhood of $800 billion.”

“The president did convince me,” she said, adding that she believed the two sides would reach a compromise on the Senate stimulus package on Thursday.