updated 2/6/2009 1:04:52 PM ET 2009-02-06T18:04:52

Happy Thursday!

Hello everybody, and welcome to the Shuster "Daily Briefing" for February 5, 2009. Get out those TV trays. Tonight's 6 p.m. is going to be wild. It now appears that Democrats have the votes they need in the U.S. Senate to pass President Obama's stimulus plan. Senate Majority leader Harry Reid is talking about having the vote as early as this evening. There is still some confusion about what is in the bill and what has been taken out. Plus, estimates of the size have ranged from $800 billion to $920 billion.  In any case, keep in mind that this proposal is the biggest in U.S. history. 

We will start our show with the latest news on the dramatic Senate vote. We will also go through some of the details of the plan and we will explain why two Republican Senators from Maine, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, and democrat Ben Nelson from Nebraska, have emerged as the most powerful force in the entire chamber.

President Obama has been monitoring the developments on Capitol Hill all day long. He started his day by speaking at a prayer breakfast.  

Meanwhile, most readers of the Washington Post editorial page woke up to the President's op-ed, arguing for the economic plan. 

I was struck by an op-ed from columnist E.J. Dionne about the President needing to play "hardball."

By the way, have you heard those amazing audio tapes released today of USAir pilot Sully Sullenberger as he landed flight 1549 in the Hudson River? His exchanges with the control tower were spellbinding.

Later tonight, we will talk with former CBS News anchor Dan Rather. As you know, Dan was one of the soothing voices for all Americans on 9/11. We will talk to him about the continuing rebuilding problems at Ground Zero. Dan will also have an interesting take, I think, on President Obama's White House and how the new administration is doing in confronting this horrific economy.

Speaking of the economy, we have another terrific "Hypocrisy Watch" segment. This is fast becoming one of my favorite parts of the show. Anyway, it turns out that seven different banks that received federal bailout money are now spending money for stadium naming rights. The most egregious case involves Citigroup's effort with the new stadium being built for the New York Mets.

By the way, at the half hour, we are going to examine a remarkable vote in the U.S. Senate last night.  Thirty-six out of 41 Republicans voted to strip all government spending from the President's economic stimulus plan. That effort failed. But it has earned the GOP Senators the branding of "economic Neanderthals" by many progressives and economists today. 

Click here to view the vote.

Finally, we will have some fun in our "Briefing Room" tonight with the car being driven around town by North Carolina Senator Richard Burr.

And lest we forget, today's "Muckraker of the Day" will be somebody you know well. He has written a ground breaking analysis on the challenges facing whoever gets the job of Health and Human Services Secretary. 

Our "Quote of the Day" comes from former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala.

"Fear drives you and makes you better."

Thanks in advance for watching tonight's show.  "1600" airs at 6 p.m. in Washington, D.C.; 5 p.m. in Milwaukee; 4 p.m. in Roswell, N.M.; and 3 p.m. in Eureka, Calif.

Shuster

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