As of late this evening, it was unclear that any of the Senate Republican conferees would vote in favor of the plan. Without Senate Republican support, all four of the panel’s Senate Democrats would need to support the package for it to be approved, making Cardin’s vote crucial.
Earlier in the day, sources indicated that GOP conferees Sens. Jon Kyl (Ariz.) and John Barrasso (Wyo.) — both members of Senate Republican leadership — were unlikely to support the deal. These same sources said that Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) might be the most likely to flip but that even those chances were slim.
Senate Democratic aides indicated that House Republicans were looking for some cover from Senate GOP approval, but the eleventh-hour press on Senate Republicans as leaders scrambled for compromise seemed almost too late given how they had been absent from negotiations before tonight.
“Senate Republicans have been largely out of these talks,” Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) told reporters Tuesday.
Aides in both leadership and close to the conference committee said the majority of negotiations was between Baucus and Camp, with the involvement of top leaders. The issues raised by other conferees have consumed the debate since those same leaders felt they were close to striking a deal.