What a diffference a week makes

Last week, it seemed as if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, had broken all the bipartisan windows and gone forward on a partisan path toward final passage -- something that seemed to doom the bill to failure.  Republican leaders raged against Reid's move, particularly when he banned all amendments to the bill.

But today -- Reid scored a major victory, though the size of the bill is rather modest: $15 billion.

Still -- getting anything through the Senate these days takes a Herculean effort and practically a PhD in higher-order Calculus, but Reid managed to get the support on Monday of FIVE Republicans, including the newbie from Massachusetts, Scott Brown, which put him on a glidepath to victory.

That was the high hurdle -- 60 votes to shut down a GOP-led filibuster.

So -- today was less an exercise in courage, as the bill was headed toward an easy final passage, which only required 51 votes.  Still -- it's notable that THIRTEEN Republicans supported the bill.

[GOPers:  Alexander, Bond, Brown (MA), Burr, Cochran, Collins, Hatch, Inhofe, Lemieux, Murkowski, Snowe, Voinovich and Wicker]

Later today --- the Senate is expected to pass short term extensions of some popular provisions, including, unemployment insurance benefits, COBRA, and tax extenders (includes credits for R&D, energy tax credits, and much  more).  They'll likely include the Patriot Act and some flood insurance provisions.

Senators will then wrestle with another jobs bill that will attempt to extend for one year (not just until the end of 2010) the above provisions.

Still unknown --- when the Senate will deal with the estate tax (critics call it the "death tax"), which is now zero but will jump to a whopping 55% on estates worth more than $1 million.  (Cue the members from farm states who will howl if this happens.)