Reid scavenging for votes

posted at 9:34 am on February 13, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Can Harry Reid deliver sixty votes in the Senate on Porkulus?  Apparently, not even Reid can answer that question.  According to CNN, Ted Kennedy is too ill to return for the vote, and that means one vote lost from the previous tally could kill the Obama-Pelosi-Reid omnibus stimulus-spending bill:

CNN has learned that one day after securing an agreement on a giant economic stimulus bill that is expected to pass narrowly with the votes of three moderate Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is calling other Republican centrists trying to persuade more of them to vote for the measure.

He’s looking for additional votes out of an abundance of caution, an aide explained, after learning that ailing Sen. Ted Kennedy, who returned to Capitol Hill for votes earlier this week, has now gone back to Florida to continue his recovery from brain cancer and won’t be here for a final vote on the stimulus bill in the coming days.

With Kennedy here, the Senate version of the bill passed 61-37 – just one vote more than needed.

The math was obvious even last week.  Without at least three Republicans, the bill will die on a procedural vote.  That has already created some hard feelings among House Democrats, who reportedly got rolled in conference this week:

Leading House Democrats were smiling on Thursday, but some of them are furious with the Senate on its handling of the economic stimulus bill.

Even though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) praised the $789 billion conference legislation, talks between the chambers have clearly left some battle scars.

And House Democrats are vowing that from now on, things will be different.

“We will tell the Senate Democratic leadership to let the GOP filibuster,” a House leadership aide said. “The House is not going to move on what the Senate passes and give in during conference like we have been doing.

None of this would have been necessary had Pelosi invited the Republicans to help draft the bill in the first place.  There were plenty of Republicans who would have supported a big-spending plan, balanced with the right kinds of tax cuts and incentives.  Had Pelosi done that, the resulting stimulus bill would have already sailed through Congress with wide bipartisan margins.  Her failure to act responsibly in the beginning has been the reason for all of the problems that followed.

Now Reid has to scrounge up more Republicans, but with Gregg publicly rejected the stimulus last night and rejoining the Senate, he may have trouble holding the three he already has.  Reid knows it, too — otherwise, he wouldn’t bother looking for more.  If Arlen Specter, Susan Collins, or Olympia Snowe change their minds, Reid winds up with an embarrassing loss, and Pelosi has to go back to the drawing board.


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