Yesterday we watched the barrage of GOP attempts to derail or otherwise stymie HR-1, the Stimulus bill, go down one after another after another. We witnessed, among other things, that many of these amendments were defeated by more than 60 votes, and that not only did suspect Democrats (Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu) fall in line, but several of the so-called moderate Republicans were voting with the Dems more often than not (Snowe, Collins, Specter, sometimes Voinovich or Lugar).
They're still gabbing away (C-SPAN2 feed can be found here), but several votes are in, and once again the Republicans are going nowhere fast. Importantly, several amendments that would have essentially substituted the entire bill have been rejected with authority.
Scorecard so far on the flip.
McCain amendment #364 LOSES 40 to 57.
Feingold* amendment #140 LOSES 32 to 65.
DeMint amendment #189 LOSES 43 to 54.
Ensign amendment #353 LOSES 35 to 62.
Thune amendment #197 LOSES 37 to 60.
As I type this they are voting to table (kill) an amendment offered by Tom "Zero Gravity Chairs" Coburn.
(Some of these amendments are available to read in the Congressional Record, some aren't there yet; it depends on whether they were introduced in time to be printed in yesterday's bulletin.) [Update: for example, the Thune substitute, for those of you who are strong of stomach, can be found starting here (pdf - and other pages following). Guess what? It looks like it's got a lot of tax cuts!]
Now the McCain, Ensign, and Thune amendments were all "in the nature of a substitute," meaning, if I am understanding the process correctly, that they were essentially aimed at junking the whole bill and replacing it with another bill with the same clothes on but a completely different body inside -- more tax cut-y, less actual, you know, stimulus. In fact the Thune amendment is labeled as being essentially the same damn alternative introduced by the House Republicans. And they all went down, with both Thune and Ensign getting 60 Nays.
The most problematic from our point of view is, of course, the McCain vote, being on 40 to 57. On this one the Snowes and the Specters joined their partners in crime, and that suggests a slight reluctance with the bill at hand. And, as most of you probably know, there are all sorts of tidbits of information being released about what the "centrists" (especially Snowe, Collins, and Ben Nelson) might introduce, although the latest info, it seems, suggests that they are moving closer and closer to some sort of consensus that the President might be able to live with; which is to say much smaller cuts to the bill than were originally floated out there.
Okay, I will try to update as more votes are tallied and more news comes forth.
(* Oh, you want to know why the hell I have Feingold listed among the Republican amendments? Is sdf off his rocker? Well, because we know that Senator Feingold, as much as we love him in these parts, can be quixotic, and this amendment was to eliminate earmarks. In the context of this bill, that suggested problematizing a number of the designations, it would seem. It also demanded disclosure of lobbying ties, which is a fantastic idea, but it may not be the right place for it. Russ was the only Dem to vote for, joined by 31 stalwart Repubs. Thus, I have it listed among the Republican amendments. Sorry Senator Feingold.)