Senate Moderates Put Budget Resolution in Doubt

Senate vote-counters are worried about the ultimate fate of the budget resolution recently hammered out by House and Senate negotiators, as several senators who were expected to vote for the measure are now expressing doubts.

The House is set to vote on Wednesday and the Senate hopes to vote Thursday.

Senators Jim Jeffords, R-Vt., Lincoln Chaffee R-R.I., Diane Feinstein D-Calif., John Edwards, D-N.C., and Ben Nelson, D-Neb., are all suggesting they will oppose the House-Senate compromise.

And Sen. John Breaux, D-La., considered by many the leader of the centrist coalition in the Senate, is saying he will withhold judgment for now.

The budget resolution facing votes this week was a deal worked out between the Senate and the House. The GOP-controlled House had originally passed all of President George W. Bush's $1.6 trillion tax cut, while fifteen Democrats and every Republican in the Senate voted for a $1.3 trillion, 10-year tax cut in the Senate's version of the budget resolution two weeks ago.

The deal reached between the House and Senate is an 11-year tax relief package of $1.25 trillion dollars in tax cuts, plus a $100 billion tax rebate designed as an immediate economic stimulus.

Printing Error Allowed Time for Minds to Change

The House was originally scheduled to vote on the resolution last Thursday, followed by the Senate on Friday. But when the budget came back from the printer, it was missing two pages, causing an embarrassing delay of the votes until this week.

The delay has given lawmakers an opportunity to study the compromise's fine print — and some senators have found things they don't like.

The Senate centrists who backed the $1.3 trillion tax cut plan — and signed off in principle on the House and Senate compromise — are now expressing concern that too much is being changed, thus throwing their support in doubt.

Republicans have been explicit about their strategy of trying to pass the budget resolution quickly so as to get tax-cut legislation on the president's desk, while many Democrats have accused the GOP of a phony budget designed to jam through tax cuts.