Thursday, August 03, 2006
The sweeteners
From The Morning Grind

All this week there has been a high stakes, behind the scenes battle between Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) as they hunt for a few crucial votes on the last big vote of the summer, CNN's Dana Bash reports.

The question is whether the GOP gamble to link minimum wage with the estate tax will pay off.

Last time the estate tax cut came before the Senate, Republicans were just three votes shy of the 60 they needed to pass the bill. In order to get those votes this time, Bash tells us that Republicans have added some sweeteners beyond just a minimum wage hike. They are putting specific provisions into the bill that are designed to make it hard for some Democrats to vote against it.

To lure Sen. Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia), the GOP has added a provision to help clean up coal mines and pay for health care for miners. Byrd, who is running for re-election, could be in a tough spot.

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas) said that he really is torn over what to do. Republicans put a rural bonds provision in the bill to target him.

For Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), Republicans added a tax break on lumber. A Democratic source tells Bash she is leaning towards voting against the measure, but she too is up for re-election.

It is going to go down to the wire. The vote was planned for Friday, but with the smell of jet fumes lingering in the Senate hallways, a vote could happen later today. The betting now is that it won't pass, but it is still too close to call to make a definitive prediction.
Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 8/03/2006 11:24:00 AM ET | Permalink
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