Senate Cuts $100 Billion, Reaches Deal on Stimulus
UPDATE (4:33 p.m. Pacific): On the Senate floor, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a crucial swing-voting Republican, just announced that she supports the Democratic compromise on the stimulus, calling it the "culmination of much deliberation and debate."
That oughta do it.
Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Penn., is still scheduled to speak. Given that Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., asked that Specter be allowed to speak, it's fair to assume Specter will announce his support. When he does, Democrats will have the votes they need to pass it. It's then on to the conference negotiations between the House and Senate.
UPDATE (4:26 p.m. Pacific): Senate Majority Leader Reid took to the Senate floor to say that the compromise reached today required some Democrats to "swallow real hard" and that they were "close, closer" to reaching a final deal.
There would be no vote tonight, however, he said, "but in the next day or so." Reid cited four senators who had been crucial in the ongoing negotiations: Sens. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., Collins, Specter and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.
Those four speakers will now be given time on the floor to lay out their positions.
UPDATE (4:02 p.m. Pacific): The Senate Democratic meeting has broken up. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said that there is "tremendous unity" among Democrats for a new compromise stimulus. He and other senators said that the number is now close to $780 billion. Fifty-eight percent is spending, and 42 percent is tax cuts. Democrats still hope for a vote tonight.
Specter is a crucial Republican vote that Democrats need. Walking onto the Senate floor, he said that he was soon to make a statement there regarding his position. Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said that Democrats have "at least three" Republican votes -- enough to pass even if Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., does not make it for the vote.