A tentative agreement has been reached on the stimulus plan. The plan has been chopped down to $780 billion.
UPDATE – 7:50PM ET: Specter makes it official. Sen. Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, announced on the Senate floor that he is supporting the compromise stimulus bill that emerged today. Specter’s support comes after the announcement minutes earlier by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.). Democrats have 58 members in their caucus. The support of Specter and Collins gives them the 60 they need to end debate and move to passage of the bill.
Get used to hearing the names Collins and Specter, along with moderate Republican Sens. George Voinovich of Ohio and Olympia Snowe of Maine. If Al Franken ultimately finds his way to Washington, Democrats, if they stay united, will need only one of those four to move a bill through. They proved this evening they’re willing to do that.
Senator Harry Reid has shown some disappointing behavior in debate on the bill.
Earlier, Reid aggressively warned that the package would not be hijacked by the bipartisan group, which has been led by Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. Nelson said his group had been dealing with the White House during their meetings, though he did not say whether the president himself was involved in the discussions.
Behind the scenes, some Republicans were skeptical of Reid’s claim. But Democratic leaders are said to be confident that no Democrat will vote against the president, and that Collins and her fellow Maine Republican, Sen. Olympia Snowe, and perhaps another Republican or two will vote for the plan, even without a compromise that lowers the price tag.
Democrats could pass the measure by a simple majority of the Senate’s 100 members. But leaders want to hit 60 to deny Republicans the opportunity of blocking the legislation with a point of order allowed under the chamber’s rules.
The mood at the Capitol all day had an air of desperation — and, at times, anger — as Republicans took to the Senate floor to take whacks at the president’s plan, and Democrats pushed back.
Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona attempted to replace the president’s package with one that cost about half as much and included more tax cuts; his effort failed by a vote of 57-40. McCain said what was happening in the Senate is “not bipartisanship.”
Come on Senator Reid. You are acting like a child. You are not the kid who was bullied on the playground who has decided to fight back. Just because you had to fight the Bush administration hard for eight years doesn’t mean you can or should turn around and do the same. This is a bipartisan group no less, not just Republicans. Does absolute power corrupt absolutely? In Harry Reid’s case maybe it does.