Friday Senate Votes Possible

Posted November 19, 2008 at 11:37am

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is expected to file for cloture on an auto loan and unemployment insurance extension package sometime Wednesday, a move that could force a Friday vote on the measure and keep the chamber in business for the rest of the week.

A Democratic leadership aide said Reid is eyeing a vote later this week on the auto loan package because Democrats cannot overcome Senate Republicans’ objections to a broader economic stimulus bill that in addition to the auto aid would include funds for infrastructure, food stamps and other programs. Democrats are hoping to reach an agreement with Republicans so that votes could occur before Friday, but the path forward is still unclear.

Republicans largely object to giving the auto industry another $25 billion loan. Instead, GOP lawmakers want the car companies to be able to tap into funds — previously authorized by Congress — designed to increase the manufacturing of fuel-efficient vehicles. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) introduced legislation Wednesday morning to do just that, arguing that President George W. Bush would likely support that version.

Even with the agenda still in flux, it appears unlikely that Senators will wrap up the week having not passed anything to help the economy. If the auto package fails, Democrats are likely to advance a stand-alone bill that would extend unemployment insurance benefits.