Is it going to pass?

IS IT GOING TO PASS?…. Weighing the relative merits of the bailout package headed to the House floor today is pretty tricky. As Hilzoy explained very well overnight, even respected, like-minded economists — who many might turn to for guidance on whether the bill should pass or not — disagree with one another.

So, let’s ask a different question: what are the bill’s chances in Congress?

It took quite a bit of work for lawmakers and administration officials to hammer out a compromise, but it’s likely to take at least as much work to secure majorities in both chambers. The 110-page bill is expected to get a floor vote in the House today, with a Senate vote on Wednesday. If lawmakers are looking to the parties’ presidential candidates, both McCain and Obama have offered grudging support for the package, though it’s unclear just how many votes that’ll move.

At this point, no one seems to have any idea what to expect. The AP reports, “Officials in both parties expected the vote to be a nail-biter.” The Wall Street Journal seems more confident, reporting, “Both parties have already started the process of pressuring and cajoling members to vote for the bill. Passage is seen as likely, despite the measure’s unpopularity.” The LA Times, meanwhile, is far less sure, explaining that the bailout “faces strong opposition, and it remained unclear Sunday whether it would have enough votes to pass.”

Perhaps one of the only reliable predictions to make is that the vote will not fall along party lines — both caucuses appear divided.

“Nobody wants to have to support this bill,” said Rep. John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, the House minority leader. But he said he was urging “every member whose conscience will allow them to support this” to do so. Officials in both parties expected the vote to be a nail-biter. […]

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, an opponent, estimated that half of the House’s 199 Republicans are “truly undecided.”

Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said he was inclined to oppose the bill. But he added: “A lot of people are going to hold their nose and vote for it, because they’ve been put in a bad position and they don’t have any other option.”

For his part, the president seemed to think he could move some of the undecided votes by publicly endorsing the bill this morning, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that few lawmakers actually care about Bush’s arm-twisting right now.

So, any predictions?

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.