Wednesday, June 27, 2007

On the Eve of Cloture Vote: As reports swirl that the fate of the bill may be troubled, the failure of cloture seems far from a done deal. Proponents of cloture need 60 votes; they got 64 last time, so there needs to be a net change of 5 votes in order to hold off cloture. A Senate source suggests these votes could be crucial (among senators who voted in favor of cloture last time):
Bingaman (D-NM)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Burr (R-NC)
Domenici (D-NM)
Gregg (R-NH)
Ensign (R-NV)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AL)
Webb (D-VA)

Of those 9, Bond and Domenici seem fairly strong against cloture, and Webb and Burr seem like they may be leaning in that direction. Domenici may pull his fellow New Mexican Bingaman with him. With rumors that, over the past few days, funds have dried up at the National Republican Senatorial Committee because its chair, Ensign, voted in favor of the bill, he seems to be feeling some pressure. Nelson says he usually support cloture motions, but we've been getting a lot of mixed signals from him...See UPDATE below: Burr and Nelson tell FOX they're against cloture...UPDATE: Webb may still be leaning in favor of cloture

Whom else could I think of as a possibility for switching to be against cloture? Some guesses:
Brown (D-OH): with labor's opposition to this bill, I think he could be a possibility...
Coleman (R-MN): up for re-election, may switch against cloture if he feels cloture will fail anyways
Collins (R-ME): up for re-election, seems under a fair amount of pressure
Conrad (D-ND): fellow N. Dakotan Dorgan is a leading critic of this bill
Murkowski (R-AK): says she has reservations....

Who could switch from being against cloture to being in favor of it? Guesses:
Bayh (D-IN)
Cochran (R-MS): said he was going to vote in favor of cloture but then switched--very unpredictable...
Hatch (R-UT): I don't know how much pressure he's feeling...
Stabenow (D-MI): switched to vote against cloture last time--she was against last year's Senate immigration bill, but she was also up for re-election last year...

But this is a very hard-fought bill, and there's so much pressure being applied on both sides, that I wouldn't be surprised if there were some unlisted switches going on.
As a Senate source suggested to me, it will be very uncomfortable for any Senator who votes in favor of cloture if cloture gets only 60 votes--then every attack ad against a pro-cloture senator could call that Senator the "deciding vote" in favor of cloture.
UPDATE: Bloomberg News lists the following undecided votes:
Republicans Richard Burr of North Carolina and Christopher Bond of Missouri and Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska said they oppose permitting a vote on final passage. Virginia Democrat Jim Webb and Republicans John Ensign of Nevada and Pete Domenici of New Mexico said they were leaning that way.


Five other senators who voted to resume the debate said they are undecided on the next procedural test. They are Republicans Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and Democrats Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.
Brownback talks against the bill--but where does he stand on cloture?

UPDATE: (Via a reader) A group supporting the "grand bargain" sends around this "action list" of senators they're concerned about:
  • Senator Bingaman (D-NM)
  • Senator Bayh (D-IN)
  • Senator Domenici (R-NM)
  • Senator Coleman (R-MN)
  • Senator Brownback (R-KS)
  • Senator Bennett (R-UT)
  • Senator Gregg (R-NH)
  • Senator Bond (R-MO)
  • Senator Murkowski (R-AK)
  • Senator Stevens (R-AK)

UPDATE: Well, according to FOX News Nelson is anti-cloture--as is Burr:

Late Wednesday, two Republicans, Sens. Kit Bond of Missouri and Richard Burr of North Carolina, told FOX News that they will switch their vote and not try to prevent the filibuster. One Democrat who never votes against cloture, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, also told FOX News that he will vote "no" this time.

"Enough is enough. There have been seven cloture votes I've voted yes on. This is an extraordinary circumstance. But enough is enough. ... This clay pigeon is looking like a dead duck," Nelson said.