Deal?February 6, 2009 - by Donny Shaw
>Bipartisan negotiators appear to have reached a compromise on cutting as much as $140 billion from the Senate economic stimulus bill, but the plan needs to be vetted with rank-and-file Democrats before an official deal can be announced.
>Senate Democrats convened a special caucus meeting to discuss the compromise at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
>Aides said the rough outlines of the deal would pare the package from nearly $920 billion to $780 billion through a combination of cuts to overall government spending and a reduction in the amount of tax cuts in the measure.
>If a deal is reached, Democrats expect at least three Republicans to join them in passing a bill. It was unclear if a vote could be held on either the amendment or the bill as a whole on Friday night, given that some Republicans were expected to request additional debate time.
Majority Leader Harry Reid is trying to sell the $140 billion in cuts to the Democratic caucus at this moment. If all Republicans were to vote for the cuts, which will be offered as an amendment to the bill (.pdf), it will still take at least 19 Democrats to join with them for it to pass.
The full Senate’s is expected to come back to session at 7PM – I’ll be watching C-Span 2 to see what is said as they return.
UPDATE: Okay, we’re learning a bit about the agreement as this debate goes on. There’s still no actual text, but a few senators have revealed vague information on what will be in it – see Kagro X’s notes.
The major take-away so far from this debate is that there appears to be very little Republican support for the deal. Collins will vote for it, Snowe probably will, Specter might, but Majority Leader McConnell won’t. That means that the GOP rank-and-file won’t either. Right now we’re seeing Republican after Republican get up and speak against the “bipartisan deal.”
If any Democrat votes against the deal, it probably won’t pass.
UPDATE 2: The vote on the Nelson-Collins amendment will happen on Saturday. I don’t know how much I’ll be online before that, so if someone gets the text of the amendment, please leave a link to it in the comments.
UPDATE 3: From Ben Nelson’s staff, an .xls file outlining the Nelson-Collins modifications to the Senate stimulus bill: