Continued from page 1

Just last week, Mr. Reid called Republicans’ effort to dip into stimulus funds an “abuse” of the money and said there were no stimulus dollars to spare.

“It wouldn’t be right, with the country still struggling to gain its economic viability, to cut the legs out from under this program that has worked so well,” he said. “I think this is the wrong way to go.”

Jim Manley, a spokesman for Mr. Reid, said Democrats were not eager to tap the stimulus for the current bill, but said it shows how far they’re willing to go to pass what they see as an important jobs-creating measure. He said the move has caused discomfort among some Senate Democrats.

“It was done very reluctantly. The fact is, this demonstrates how hard the Democratic leadership has worked to pick up Republican votes,” he said.

Democrats have turned back every previous effort to undo parts of the stimulus.

Last year, the Senate passed an amendment to strip out a Washington, D.C., summer-jobs program that the U.S. Forest Service funded from wildland firefighting money. But that amendment was later dropped from the final bill.

The White House, too, has been adamantly opposed to any changes in the stimulus.

“We’ve got a plan you heard the vice president talk about that, we believe, is helping what was a very fragile economy become more stable,” press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters last week. “We need to continue to implement the plan that we have, and not take money away from very important projects like education right now.”

But House Democratic leaders have said they are open to redirecting stimulus funds from low-priority programs to immediate job-preserving efforts, such as preserving local government jobs.

And Sen. Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, one of just two current Republicans in Congress to vote for the stimulus last year, said she thinks money should be redirected now to pay for immediate priorities. Democrats had sought her support for Thursday’s vote, but she stuck with fellow Republicans, arguing the bill’s tax increases on small businesses were unwise.

Republicans said they will take the billions of dollars in stimulus cuts proposed by Democrats and use them as a road map for their own future proposals.

“This is a remarkable turnaround from just the other day when they voted almost unanimously against a similar approach. And we appreciate them identifying those portions of the stimulus bill that they’re willing to jettison,” said Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader MitchMcConnell, Kentucky Republican.

Late Thursday, Mr. McConnell tried exactly that. He proposed a slimmed-down version of the Democrats’ bill, using their own stimulus cuts. Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, objected, saying the stimulus was producing jobs and that Democrats had worked carefully to craft their bill.

The country’s debt topped $13 trillion earlier this month and stood at $13.041 trillion as of Wednesday, the latest day for which figures are available.