Stimulus Will Test Remaining GOP Clout
By Ben Pershing
How much clout do Republicans have left in this town? The first and best test of that question should come quickly next month, as congressional Democrats start moving a historically huge, Barack Obama-backed stimulus package under the wary eye of the minority.
On Monday, both Mitch McConnell and John Boehner called for caution, asking Democrats to hold extensive hearings to vet the package, and to ensure that the measure does not become the vehicle for all manner of legislative pet projects. Estimates of the package's size vary, but both Republicans have seized on the nice, round $1 trillion price tag
The GOP's influence over the upcoming stimulus bill rests on two thin reeds. The first is the one or two Republican senators -- depending on the still-unresolved outcome of the Franken-Coleman race in Minnesota -- who prevent Democrats from having a filibuster-proof majority in the chamber. The second is Democrats' unwillingness to push a massive, budget-busting bill through Congress without the cover of at least nominal GOP support. On the latter point, Democrats made soothing noises Monday about "cooperation" with the minority, but will that cooperation last longer than a week or so if Republicans aren't rushing to sign off on a deal? Democrats could then just seek to pick off a few GOP moderates in the Senate, but will the majority be willing to move such a massive, budget-busting bill on such a partisan basis?
Posted at 8:16 AM ET on Dec 30, 2008
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