DEAL…. For now, it looks like the Senate will, in fact, pass a stimulus package. Despite the expected $1 trillion loss in economic demand, Republican “centrists” demanded a smaller recovery bill, and they appear to have successfully removed over $100 billion in stimulus from the legislation.
Senate Democrats reached an agreement with Republican moderates on Friday to pare a huge economic recovery measure, clearing the way for approval of a package that President Obama said was urgently needed in light of mounting job losses.
The deal, announced on the Senate floor, was the result of two days of tense negotiations and political theater. Mr. Obama dispatched his chief of staff to Capitol Hill to reassure senators in his own party and called three key Republicans to applaud them for their patriotism. […]
The fine print was not immediately available, and the numbers were shifting. But in essence, the Democratic leadership and two centrist Republicans announced that they had struck a deal on about $110 billion in cuts to the roughly $900 billion legislation — a deal expected to provide at least the 60 votes needed to send the bill out of the Senate and into negotiations with the House, which has passed its own version.
We’ll have a better sense of the details in the morning, but for now, Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) have agreed to support the stimulus plan, and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) has committed her vote though her office told the AP she’s on the fence. Sen. Ted Kennedy, still recuperating from an Inaugural Day seizure, has been called back to the Senate, and is reportedly en route to D.C. from Florida.
It’s also probably worth noting that the leadership apparently won’t have to worry about any Democratic defections on this. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), who hasn’t exactly been a cheerleader for the measure, said he expects Democratic unanimity. “My sense from the caucus,” he said, “was that the caucus was united, that the package had been improved, and people would support it.”
The overall package, at least in the Senate version, apparently carries a $780 billion price tag. GOP leaders said a vote this evening is unlikely, but given the past few days, I suppose anything’s possible.