Negotiators Scramble to Wrap Up Stimulus Language

Posted February 7, 2009 at 6:59pm

Senate negotiators were scrambling Saturday evening to finalize the compromise amendment that has been hailed as the savior of a massive economic stimulus bill. Though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and the bipartisan sponsors of the plan had originally intended to introduce the proposal to slash $108 billion from the more than $920 billion bill at noon Saturday, the drafting process was taking longer than expected and threatened to delay a planned vote on final passage Tuesday. If the amendment cannot be written by midnight Saturday, one senior Republican aide said, Democrats may not be able to set in motion the procedural steps that would allow them to have a key test vote Monday. The amendment must garner 60 votes to prevent a GOP-led filibuster, but all 58 members of the Democratic caucus and at least three Republicans – Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Arlen Specter (Pa.) – are expected to support the measure, which was brokered Friday. It was unclear Saturday evening whether Republicans would be willing to give Democrats consent to keep the current timeline for passage if the amendment is not ready in time. The Senate, which was in session Saturday afternoon for debate only, recessed around 4:30 p.m., but it was expected to reconvene at 8:30 p.m. It was not immediately clear if the amendment was ready to be introduced at that time. Despite the delay, the bipartisan deal virtually assures the chamber will pass the measure next week.