Senate Democrats are tweaking President Obama’s jobs bill, to consolidate support for it within the caucus. The details of the tweaks haven’t been disclosed yet, but the goal is to set it up for a test vote later this month that garners the support of more than 50 senators.
There are 53 Democrats, though, and thanks to Senate filibuster rules, the test vote will be held at a 60-vote threshold. Getting over the 50-vote middle-point will allow Obama to claim that a minority in the Senate is obstructing his plan. But it won’t stop Republicans from claiming “bipartisan opposition” to Obama’s bill. The only way to do that is to get all 53 members on board.
I asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) at his weekly press conference Tuesday whether the changes he’s making to the bill will win it the full support of his caucus. It’s not looking very likely. “You can’t trap me into unanimous,” Reid said. “As I’ve indicated here before, to get all my senators to agree that I can take a break and go to the bathroom, I can’t quite get that. So we’ll get most everyone. There could be — I don’t know who — but there could be some that don’t support it. But it would be a rare situation.”
A handful or two of Senate Democrats have expressed opposition to the way Obama’s proposed to pay for the legislation, particularly from oil-patch Democrats concerned that the plan as written could result in higher taxes on oil and gas companies. Reid suggested the details of the revised pay-fors will be released soon.
“There are a wide range of things that we’re looking at, because the only objections I’ve heard from my caucus on the President’s jobs bill is dealing with the pay-fors, so we’re resolving that issue as we speak,” Reid said.
On the Senate floor Tuesday, Reid said he expected a majority of the Senate (51-plus members) will support Obama’s plan when all’s said and done. That means he’s still figuring a couple members of his party won’t be swayed.
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Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.