Reid Pushes for Stimulus Deal

Posted February 6, 2009 at 9:56am

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) prodded bipartisan negotiators to finish work quickly on an amendment cutting as much as $100 billion from the economic stimulus legislation so that the Senate can complete work on the measure Friday. “We’re nearing the time when negotiations must be completed and action must begin,” Reid said on the floor Friday morning. “So I urge my colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans, to dedicate this day to responsibly passing this legislation and sending it to the president.” He added that he hoped to have the bipartisan amendment ready to vote on between 5 and 7 p.m. “We’re going to be able to work something out. I feel very comfortable that we can do that,” he said. The amendment calling for massive cuts to the more than $900 billion bill has become crucial for the measure to pass, given that many Democrats and several Republicans have said they cannot support the bill without a haircut to the price tag. Democrats will need 60 votes to overcome procedural hurdles and pass the bill, meaning they will need all 58 members of the Democratic caucus and at least two Republicans. But as of Friday morning, the amendment remained elusive to negotiators, even though they worked through the night Thursday and resumed talks early Friday. “There’s no deal. We’re still working,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Friday morning. Collins is one of the lead sponsors of the amendment, along with Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the situation was complicated by the fact that some Democrats were having trouble with the total amount of cuts in the proposed amendment as well as the specific programs, such as education funding, that would be trimmed. But even if a deal on the compromise amendment comes together Friday, sources said hundreds of amendments have been filed, and it is unclear which Senators will insist on having a vote on their proposals before a vote on final passage can be conducted. In order to pass the bill Friday, Reid will need all Republicans to consent to a vote — likely with a 60-vote threshold. But that may be a tough sell given that most Republicans’ opposition to the measure has begun to harden. “We will not support an aimless spending spree that masquerades as a stimulus,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the floor.