After watching Democrats steamroll to victory in the House the day before on a massive economic stimulus bill, Senate Republicans are trying to figure how best to grapple with Democrats on this bill.
“The bill produced by the Democratic Congress falls short on a number of important fronts,” said Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, who laid down several markers for next week’s stimulus debate in a floor speech.
McConnell said the GOP wants to see more tax relief added to the bill, so that it is 40% of the stimulus plan, as originally proposed by President Obama.
The Republican Leader also took aim at spending in the plan, mocking provisions that would spend money for repairs on a variety of government buildings in Washington, D.C.
“The only bipartisan thing about this bill is the opposition to it,” he huffed.
There was some talk in the halls that McConnell and others were searching for ways to put together a bill that focused more on infrastructure – as in roads and bridges – plus tax cuts.
One person supposedly involved in talks was Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, one of the two GOP Senators that Democrats hope will back their stimulus bill.
Meanwhile in a lunch time news conference, a group of more conservative GOP Senators railed against the bill, but no one was threatening a filibuster or any delaying tactics.
At least not yet.
“We’re spending money we don’t have for things we don’t need, that will not stimulate the economy,” said chief GOP Budget Hawk Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.
It will be interesting to see what Coburn and others try to do next week, because while they are publicly talking about what amendments they will offer, it’s unclear how far Democrats will go on that point.
Republicans have already had some success in publicly pressuring Democrats to take a few things out of the bill before the House voted on it.
We’ll see how things develop over the weekend and whether the GOP gets some traction, or whether they’re just going to get knocked around by Democrats in debate on the Senate floor.
The best way for the GOP to get back in this game is to offer something that’s pretty basic – like the tax cuts plus infrastructure option menioned above.
You can’t mix in too many things. Keep it barebones so it is easy to explain. You never know what you might get some more moderate Democrats interested in.