Centrists warn: Our stimulus plan or nothing

Two of the key figures in the Senate deal say the final bill needs to look like their vision, or they won't vote for it.

By Alex Koppelman

Published February 10, 2009 3:00PM (EST)

Senate Democrats were able to win a cloture vote on the stimulus package Monday afternoon because of a deal that convinced moderates, including three Republicans, to support it. Now some of the pivotal players in that deal are warning that their votes on the final bill shouldn't be taken for granted.

Once the Senate holds an official up-or-down vote on the stimulus Tuesday, the bill will go to conference, where differences between the versions passed by the two chambers of Congress will be ironed out. That could mean funding that was cut as part of the Senate deal will end up in the final legislation.

Already, both Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), the architect of the compromise, and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), one of three Republicans whose support was crucial on Monday, have come out to say they won't accept a bill that's much different from the one they voted for.

"It can't be materially different as to the topline [of about $830 billion] or as to the pieces in the package," Nelson told Politico. And Specter released a statement that reads, "My support for the Conference Report on the stimulus package will require that the Senate compromise bill come back virtually intact including, but not limited to, overall spending, the current ratio of tax cuts to spending, and the $110 billion in cuts."

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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Arlen Specter D-pa. Ben Nelson