The House of Representatives is slated to vote on its $825 billion economic recovery bill today, as Republicans fret over the level of bipartisanship on display and Democrats largely look the other way.
But what can we really expect after all the noise of the past few days? Will last night’s dinner at the White House really sway any centrist GOPer to support the stimulus? Will the bill’s relatively weak spending on infrastructure redevelopment persuade any liberal Dems to vote no? A few lawmakers to watch:Republicans
The dozen or so GOP House members whose votes are being courted by White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel are said to be members of the “Tuesday Group,” a caucus of centrist Republicans. Its ranks have dwindled in the past few years as Republicans lost races in the northeast and the conference became more conservative, but Ray LaHood, Obama’s transportation secretary, was a member during his years in the House.
Whether thanks to Rahm’s charm or the dire economy in their districts, Reps. Charlie Dent (PA), Mike Castle (DE), Fred Upton (MI), Steven LaTourette (OH), Jim Gerlach (PA), Mark Kirk (IL), and Vernon Ehlers (MI) are among the Tuesday Group members whose votes could be swayable to the stimulus today.
It’s more difficult to discern which members of President Obama’s party are at risk of breaking ranks — a straight Democratic vote in support of the stimulus isn’t out of the question. One answer could lie in the list of amendments that were deemed in order (scroll to the bottom of this page).
No. 4 on that list is a proposal to increase mass transit money by $3 billion, effectively restoring the House stimulus to the funding level suggested by transportation committee chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN).
The mass transit amendment is backed by Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), and Keith Ellison (D-MN), three influential progressives. If it is rejected, Democratic skeptics of the bill’s infrastructure spending could defect — but they’re unlikely to do so in anything but small numbers. As The Hill wrote in a prescient early look at the left wing of the Democratic caucus, they’re happy enough with what they’ve got right now.