A group of Senate moderates working on an amendment to cut up to $100 billion in spending from the economic stimulus package have completed a tentative proposal that will be presented to Senate Democrats at a 5:30 p.m. caucus meeting, Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad told reporters. “There is a proposal that is sufficiently fleshed out and we will have a caucus and discuss it,” Conrad said after emerging from talks in Senate Majority Leader Reid’s office. Democrats hope the proposal, developed by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Ben Nelson, R-Neb. [SIC], will attract several GOP supporters and be acceptable to all Democrats, which would allow for passage of the plan as early as tonight.
Prediction time: How many Republicans vote yes?
Update: AP says the final price tag would be $780 billion.
Reid suggested to reporters that he had two GOP backers for the bill but needed at least one more because neither wants to be the crucial 60th vote if all 58 members of the Democratic caucus support Obama.
Mel Martinez is also in the mix with Collins, Snowe, and Specter, but he’s unlikely.
Update: Under other circumstances this would get its own post but it’s essential context for this thread. It’s the Sex Panther stimulus!
Update: So narrow is the margin here that Democrats expect Teddy will have to be roused from his sickbed to cast the 60th vote for cloture. He’s in Florida right now, so if that’s true, the roll won’t come tonight.
Update: What a scam. Carl Levin says that the money being yanked out now to get the bill through the Senate might very well be reinserted during the conference committee with the House.
Update: CNN says the vote is expected tonight, and Teddy’s expected to be there.