Oct 11, 2011 3:38 PM GMT
Democratic leaders in the Senate are scrambling to avoid defections on President Obama’s jobs package, which appears headed for defeat on Tuesday.
A lack of Democratic unity on the president’s bill would be embarrassing for the White House, which has been scolding House Republicans for refusing to vote on the measure.
Obama has been touring the country, aiming to put pressure on the GOP to act. But Senate Democrats have indicated they are feeling some heat. Last week, Democratic leaders revised Obama’s bill, scrapping his proposed offsets. Instead of raising taxes on families making more than $250,000 annually, Senate Democrats lifted that figure to $1 million.
Despite the changes, the legislation still does not enjoy the support of all 53 senators who caucus with the Democrats. A handful of Democrats are undecided or leaning no on the bill.
Democrats who will vote no or are leaning no include Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.), who all hail from red states and are up for reelection next year.
Republican and Democratic analysts say it will be politically difficult for Obama to blame the GOP for blocking the bill if more than a few conservative Democrats break ranks.
“It is important to have the vast majority of your people, because what we are doing here is a political exercise at the moment, since there doesn’t seem to be any chance that the Republican side really wants to do anything,” said Steve Elmendorf, a senior adviser to former House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt (Mo.) for 12 years. “This needs to be a 90 percent vote.”