Reid seems assured that he has enough votes for a majority, and McConnell has another plan in the works: He says the bill isn't Constitutional because all tax and spending bills are supposed to originate in the House, so it has what's known as a "blue slip problem."
“The only reason we won’t block [the Democratic bill] today is that we know it doesn’t pass constitutional muster and won’t become law,” he said on the Senate floor.Reid had attempted to get McConnell to agree to holding up-or-down-votes on both the Democratic and Republican bills, but McConnell refused, apparently thinking he'll have a leg up on Reid with that. Republicans are using the "blue slip" argument too. But what McConnell is overlooking is the fact the transportation bill and the FAA reauthorization bills had the same origination issue, but both passed.
So, if the Democrats' bill passes, and if McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner try to derail these middle-class tax cuts on arcane procedural grounds, they're still in the bad political position of standing in the way of tax cuts for the middle class in order to protect the wealthy. On top of that, they're actually raising taxes on a good chunk of middle-class families by getting rid of popular tax credits.
Voting starts at 4:00 ET, with the Republican bill first.
1:04 PM PT: Ok, it is the Senate after all. The 4:00 ET deadline is slipping away, but they should be voting relatively soon.
1:09 PM PT: And it starts with the McConnell-Hatch amendment to extend all the Bush tax cuts for a year. This is a simple majority vote.
1:17 PM PT: Scott Brown votes "no" on McConnell-Hatch. Will he vote for the Dem bill?
1:17 PM PT: How close is Harry Reid's margin? Maybe this will tell us.
1:27 PM PT: Mark Pryor (D-AR) first Dem to vote for McConnell-Hatch.
1:31 PM PT: Vice President Biden announces the McConnell-Hatch results. It fails 45-54.
1:35 PM PT: Republican Susan Collins joined Scott Brown to vote against the GOP measure. No bets on what they'll do with the Dem bill. They could join Joe Lieberman who has vowed to vote no on both.
1:41 PM PT: McConnell says not raising taxes on 98% is just politics. Huh. That's not the strongest GOP talking point in history.
1:51 PM PT: After a particularly dickish display by McConnell, bloviating about what is and isn't "serious legislation," the Senate is now voting on the Democrats' bill.
2:01 PM PT: Scott Brown votes no on the Dem bill, as does Lieberman. Nice company there, Scotty.
2:08 PM PT: VP Biden announces the bill passes, 51-48. Roll call as soon as available. Harry Reid just won a big one, and all the pressure is on Boehner, now.