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Harry Hangs It Up For the Night; Stimulus Vote Postponed Until Tomorrow

8:04 PM, Feb 5, 2009 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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So much for having the votes for the bill tonight, huh? Isn't this the same mistake Pelosi made on the bailout package the first time around- coming to the floor and overpromising without the votes to make it happen? At least Harry saw the writing on the wall and bailed before an actual defeat on the vote, although I'm not sure the extra time is going to buy him any votes for this version of the bill.

Momentum continues to favor the Republicans' side of the argument and make red-state Democrats nervous, as a new CBS poll shows that 81 percent of the American public believes the bill should be a bipartisan effort, and only 13 percent believe it's okay to pass it with only Democratic support.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said tonight shortly before 9 p.m. that he thought it best that the Senate stop legislating for the night and reconvene tomorrow morning with the stimulus package as their first priority. A final vote on the package was widely expected tonight, and Reid called off the proceedings with amendments still pending.

"There are an number of Republican Senators working with Democratic Senators to come up with an alternative," he said of the negotiations he cited as the reason for holding off. "I think we need tonight and some of tomorrow to see if we can do it."

If, he said, the parties don't come to an agreement by tomorrow and it looks as though the Senate is "spinning our wheels," the Democrat plans to file for a cloture vote.

"Everyone's gonna have to give a little and understand that this is a process, we have to move this ball down the court," he said. "I would hope that we could complete this legislation tomorrow. I'm cautiously optimistic that we can do that."

The new CBS poll also offers this tidbit, which would be helpful to Democrats in coming up with an alternative, if they were actually interested in doing that instead of in spending a trillion dollars on their favorite causes and programs:

Asked whether higher government spending or tax cuts for business would be more effective in ending the recession, 59 percent choose the tax cuts. Just 22 percent prefer more government spending.

Twenty-two percent? No wonder Reid said on the floor earlier that "we should outlaw polls." They're nothing but trouble for Democrats.

Here's a look at a handful of the Republican amendments Democrats rejected today:

An amendment by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) to cut $47 billion in wasteful spending.

An amendment by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) cut corporate and individual income taxes and repeal the AMT.

An amendment by Sen. John Thune (R-SD) to require funding for all projects in the bill occur within one year.

An amendment by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to require spending cuts and a move to a balanced budget once the economy recovers.

An amendment by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) to cut $5.2 billion in pet projects and replace it with the same amount of defense spending.

An amendment by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) to cut the tax rate for the lowest tax bracket in half.

An amendment by Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) to repeal the 1993 Social Security tax increase.

And, a McCain amendment to strike the "Buy American" provision from the bill.

Sen. Chuck Schumer called Republicans "out of touch" on the floor tonight. The next time Republicans need lessons in being "in touch" with just 22 percent of the electorate, I'm sure they'll let him know.