One chamber down…

ONE CHAMBER DOWN…. Just moments ago, the House passed the economic stimulus bill, 246 to 183. Seven Democrats joined the Republicans in opposing the bill.

And how many Republicans broke ranks to support the package? Just 48 hours ago, the Politico reported, “It’s now expected that as many as 20 or more Republicans could break ranks to back the president.” But today, not even one House Republican voted for the legislation.

The measure now moves to the Senate, which is expected to pass the package tonight. Reader G.S. emailed this morning to ask why the bill needs 60 votes, instead of 51. That’s a good question. In this case, it’s not a Republican filibuster that necessitates a super-majority; it’s Senate rules relating to bills that will increase the budget deficit.

The bill will be subject to a point of order due to its deficit spending, but the point of order can be waived by a 3/5 vote of the Senate. So that means passage would ultimately have required 60 votes whether Republicans filibustered or not.

If the vote count is right, the legislation will likely pass with the bare minimum. Ted Kennedy will not be in the chamber tonight, taking away the majority’s margin for error. Joe Lieberman, who observes the Sabbath, will vote, though he’ll walk to the Hill and will not ride in the senate elevators. Sherrod Brown, as I mentioned earlier, is coming back tonight from his own mother’s funeral, just to make sure the bill makes it to 60.

If there are no surprises, then Sens. Collins, Snowe, and Specter will join the 55 Democrats and two independents to pass the bill. Stay tuned.

Update: Here’s the roll call on today’s vote. I have no idea why Lipinski voted “present,” and why three lawmakers didn’t vote at all.