Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Late Night Strike...Wednesday Edition

The Senate voted on a few more amendments tonight. It's hard to know exactly where the overall status of the stimulus is. Some sources say that since Senators Nelson and Collins haven't reached a deal to pare down the package, the overall bill is doomed. However, I have my doubts. We'll see what happens with the rest of the amendments, and whether Collins and Nelson really offer a strong, bipartisan amendment (why do the Democrats need to do this? We only need a couple of Republicans, it's clear that they are in no mood to as little as you can to get 60 votes).

An update on amendments tonight:

The Senate rejected three more Republican amendments this evening. The first was a motion to waive the budget rules on the Cornyn amendment. The amendment would have replaced the "make work pay" tax credit which would give rebates to tax payers who don't necessarily pay imcome taxes, with a broader income tax cut. This is a classic debate that the Democrats should be very glad to have won. Obama wants to give individuals $500 and families $1000 to help relieve working families. The rebate would only be eligible to taxpayers who make under a certain amount of money (I think it's 125,000). The Cornyn amendment would have struck this and cut the marginal tax rates for all income brackets, including the top bracket, which would not provide relief to 50 million Americans who pay other taxes, but not income taxes. Thank God it failed, 60-37. All Democrats voted no, as did Republican Senators Collins, Snowe and Voinovich.

The next amendment rejected was offered by Senator Bunning of Kentucky which would have cut taxes on social security benefits to where they were before the Clinton deficit-reduction package of 1993. The amendment failed 57-39 (it was 21 votes short of the 60 needed to waive budget rules). All of the yes votes were Republicans, except for Bayh (IN) and Nelson (NE). The no votes were from Democrats, plus Republicans Collins and Snowe (they sure vote with the Democrats a lot, don't they).

The final amendment was offered by Senator McCain and would have struck a provision in the bill that calls for all materials used in stimulus infrastructure projects to be American bought. McCain had attacked this amendment as protectionist and the heir to the Smoot-Hawley tarrif act. The amendment lost badly 65-31, which signaled a sharp end to the long Congressional trend against protectionism. All Democrats voted no, except Lieberman (will he vote for EVERYTHING McCain wants him to?), and all Republicans voted yes except for Brownback (KS), Collins, Graham (woah, he went against his best buddy McCain), Grassley (IA), Hutchison (TX), Snowe, Specter (PA) and Vitter (LA).

There will be a myriad of amendments offered tomorrow. It remains to be seen how much progress will be made towards final passage, but we will keep you updated.

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