The House appears headed today for another nail-biter on the $700 billion Wall Street bailout.
After Senators overwhelmingly approved a version of the rescue package on Wednesday stocked with $150 billion in tax breaks, a trickle of new House backers for the measure emerged Thursday. But it was not clear whether there would be enough converts to offset possible defections and make up the 12-vote deficit that sunk the package on Monday.
Democrats suggested that they would not lose any votes, while Republicans said they were picking some up. Only a handful of Members Reps. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.), Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) and Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) publicly announced Thursday that they were switching from no to yes. The Associated Press reported that Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.) planned to switch. Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) announced Wednesday that he was likely to switch.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she intended to move forward without delay but made clear she would not bring the bill to the floor unless she has the votes.
A vote is scheduled for early afternoon.
Congress must act, we must intervene, we have to send a message of confidence to the markets, she said.
House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) appeared confident Republicans will pick up the votes needed to pass the bill.
Well, well definitely have the votes unless we rush to a final decision on this vote, Blunt told MSNBC, adding that he was confident it would be today.
Blunt said constituent calls are starting to swing more in favor of the package, and Members were pleased by the addition of expanded Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. insurance and the Securities and Exchange Commissions decision to roll back mark-to-market accounting rules.
One official familiar with the vote-counting effort by legislation supporters was optimistic. This source said 15 Republicans who had voted against the measure Monday were set to switch their votes today, and at least another five were likely to join them.
Among the rank and file, predictions abounded.
Wamp said he thought Republicans could deliver five to seven new votes. Several Democratic aides pointed to the addition of business-friendly tax extenders as sweeteners for moderate Democrats, a third of whom opposed the package on Monday.
But the path to 218 remained clouded by the potential loss of Blue Dog Democrats who are angry at the inclusion of a tax-cut package that violates pay-as-you-go budget rules. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) emerged from an hourlong meeting with the Blue Dogs saying none had yet said they would reverse their vote.
Were all angry, were all frustrated, said Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), a co-chairman of the Blue Dogs. I dont know how well vote tomorrow.
Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.), another co-chairman of the Blue Dogs, isnt convinced of the need to act today. If it takes two, three, four days, its important that we get it right, he said.
Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), a Blue Dog who will vote for the package again, described the meeting as a therapy session.
Theres a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth, he said. There was some very vivid language.