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Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) agreed and indicated that Senate Democrats were prepared to scale down their proposal to get at least some of what they want. We dont expect to get everything we think is important for a stimulus, she said.
But she warned that Bush might push for enactment of a controversial trade pact with Colombia.
The question is whats the price for that White House cooperation, Stabenow said. Is that a price we really want to pay?
After the new Members are seated in the 111th Congress, Senate Democrats say they feel certain that they will get more cooperation from Republicans to move legislation, given they will only need to pick off five or fewer Republicans rather than the nine that eluded them for the past few years to break a filibuster.
I feel confident were going to be able to move things, Reid said in an interview Tuesday night.
Stabenow said the first bills to be taken up next year would likely include passage of a childrens health insurance bill that Bush vetoed, more spending for infrastructure and a measure focused on expanding green jobs and alternative energy production. Menendez said Democrats would move quickly to pass a budget resolution that would lay the groundwork for economic policy and spending options.
Though Reid and McConnell get along personally, they clashed repeatedly over procedural matters, particularly over the rights of Republicans to offer amendments a situation that led the Senate GOP to block to a record number of bills from coming to the Senate floor in the 110th Congress.
Reid said it would be foolish for Senate Republicans to continue their attempts to block legislation in the chamber.
He noted that moderate Maine Republican Sens. Susan Collins, who won re- election Tuesday night, and Olympia Snowe could be decisive votes for Democrats.
Theyre not going to be able to filibuster now, Reid said. We have a few Senators from Maine, and were going to have [Arizona Sen.] John McCain, whos never been a filibusterer.
Stabenow added that if Sens. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) and Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) return to the Senate, they too will be swing votes who Democrats could potentially draw on. (By late Wednesday, Smith and Coleman were still locked in races that were too close to call.)
A lot of people in both parties have been frustrated by the obstruction, Stabenow said. For the last two years, a majority of Republicans went along with their leadership on that. ... The question is whether [centrists] will choose to put their fortunes with colleagues who are continuing to obstruct.
Reid said he believes the newly elected Senators will feel, as he does, that the country voted Tuesday night for moderate not liberal policies, despite Democrats gains.
I think the country has moved to the center, Reid said. I think people want us to get things done.
Despite the call for bipartisanship, Reid is under increased pressure from his rank and file to punish Liebermans disloyalty to the party. Though most Democratic sources say Lieberman will likely not be kicked out of the Senate Democratic Conference, the act of taking away his chairmanship could cause him to switch parties a scenario that he has not completely ruled out.