Whipping the Stimulus

by Brien Jackson

Chris Bowers has the count:

  • Likely Supporters (58): 56 Democrats plus Collins and Snowe
  • Undecided (5): Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota), Mel Martinez (R-Florida), Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska), Richard Lugar (R-Indiana) and Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania).
  • Special Case (1): Judd Gregg (New Hampshire). It has been suggested that Gregg’s vote might be swayed through an appointment as Commerce Secretary. That’s a pretty high price for a vote, but it is worth noting here nonetheless.
  • Likely Opponents (35): All Republicans. Take the 34 Republicans with public statements opposing the stimulus, remove Judd Gregg, and add John Barrasso and Mike Johanns. There is simply to way that freshman Republicans from two of the last five remaining Republican states in the country will back President Obama over their party leadership.

In order to pass the stimulus package, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama need to sway at least two of the six Senators in the undecided / special case categories.

I think that’s probably an accurate characterization, but I don’t know about the conclusion. I can’t, for example, really see Democrats voting against cloture on the bill, even if someone like Nelson, Conrad, Lincoln, Pryor, or Landrieu ultimately votes against the bill. And if that line holds on the cloture vote, Snowe and Collins put you over the top. As I said the other day, I also really can’t see Gregg and Specter opposing the bill when they have to run for re-election in states that Obama won by 9 and 10 points, respectively.

All in all I think the optics are pretty simple, and benign, on this one; Senate Republicans will force a cloture vote as a sop to the right-wing, knowing all along that the votes aren’t there to actually beat the package. I don’t think they’d be using the F-word if they actually thought it might kill the proposal.