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In Senate, Stimulus May Wait for Super Tuesday

By Jonathan Weisman
Are Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton holding up your tax checks? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) surprised Capitol Hill this morning when he went to the Senate floor to explain that an expected showdown over the stimulus package is probably on hold until next week -- and perhaps until after Super Tuesday.

"All last year, I had four Democratic senators running for president. I wish they could all have been elected president, but only one can be. And so two of them are out of that race now. I still have two Democratic senators. As you know, next Tuesday is Super Tuesday, and they're both very busy, as is Senator McCain. So I probably can't get them back here until Monday, but I need them back."

Reid plans to bring the House-passed stimulus package to the Senate floor, then replace it with a Senate Finance Committee bill that adds tax checks for about 20 million low-income seniors and 250,000 disabled veterans left out of the House deal, along with unemployment insurance extensions and more than $5 billion in energy tax credits. Republican leaders plan to filibuster that package in favor of the plan worked out by President Bush and House leaders. To break that filibuster, Reid will need 60 votes, and it will be close -- so close that Obama and Clinton will be needed.

In reality, the delay will have no impact whatsoever on the date Americans receive their checks. Those checks will be based on income reported in 2007 tax returns, and few families have even thought about filing those returns.

By Washington Post editors  |  January 31, 2008; 12:23 PM ET
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The New York Times says that the delay stems, not from the senators on the campaign trail, but from the Senate Republicans fillibustering the bill unless the Dems concede to them on authorizing the warrantless wiretapping program. (I guess they'll allow the House version to go through because the President's already signed off on it - but the Senate version, which includes extended unemployment benefits, isn't acceptable to them unless they get the warrantless wiretapping authorization as well.) Seems like it's fair to say that Republicans are putting the protection of an illegal domestic surveillance program ahead of providing aid to the jobless and fending off a recession. At least as fair as blaming the senators on the campaign trail for the timing of any floor vote that will only be necessary in the first place because of the Republicans' intransigence.

Posted by: tom.woods | January 31, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

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