Heeding the call of the White House and their conservative inklings, Senate Republicans yesterday killed a Democratic effort to pump $204 billion of borrowed cash into the ailing economy over the next two years. The move marked an enormous victory for President Bush and the GOP leadership, who support a much smaller package, but the real consequences for the party may still be eight months away. That’s when Americans will head to the polls to choose the 35 Senate seats up for grabs this year, and the Republicans have the unenviable task of defending 23 of them.
With that in mind, Senate Democrats loaded their stimulus package with provisions designed to woo several of the more vulnerable GOP incumbents. The Senate bill, for example, contained language ensuring that illegal immigrants receive none of the stimulus benefits. It also contained about $1 billion in heating aid for low-income folks — bolstering a program favored by northeastern lawmakers.
A few Republicans bit, including Sens. Norm Coleman (MN) and Susan Collins (ME). But New Hampshire’s John Sununu, who had voted against a smaller bill (ie, minus the heating aid) from his new seat on the Finance Committee, remained opposed during the final vote. (It proved to be the deciding factor: Democrats came one vote shy of passing their stimulus plan.)
Whether New Hampshire voters remember that decision in November has yet to be seen. But you can be sure that someone from across the aisle will be there to remind them.
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