The group of centrist senators who have worked for days on a package of proposed cuts
to the stimulus bill just finished pitching their final product to the Democratic caucus -- and after a day of pessimistic signals, reports indicate that
a roughly $140 billion package of trimmed tax cuts and spending has been okayed by the Democratic caucus.
The Senate is slated to return to floor action tonight, though the time frame for a vote on the slimmer stimulus remains very up in the air. A spokesman for Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), who has led the centrist talks alongside Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), offered two words of caution when asked about a deal: "Not yet."
Remember, though, that unanimous consent is necessary to get anything done in the Senate, so Republican leaders would have to sign off before the economic recovery plan could come to a final vote. GOPers have adopted a slightly fatalist approach to the stimulus debate from the beginning -- as one conservative sighed last night, ultimate passage is "pretty much a foregone conclusion" -- but that doesn't meant that Republicans wouldn't try to slow things down tonight if they see a political upside.