From NBC's Mike Viqueira and Carrie Dann
The situation on the Hill remains incredibly fluid, with administration officials and GOP leaders pounding the marble floors of the Capitol to shore up support for the bailout legislation. Republican House leaders, despite their own distaste for the bill, are whipping their members in the effort to get the votes needed to pass it as the clock ticks. And there's there's an added sense of urgency: With the Jewish holidays fast approaching, practicing members from the West Coast need to be back on home turf by sundown.
The best estimates right now indicate that Republicans will garner about 70 votes in support of the bailout, less than half of the 199 GOPers in the House. Congressional Democrats are more optimistic, predicting that a majority of their 235 members will eventually climb aboard.
From some skeptics, scatological references abound. Minority Leader John Boehner, despite asking members to hold their noses and sit down at the bailout table with him, told colleagues that the bill is a "crap sandwich." Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) rose on the floor to compare the bill to " a huge cow patty with a marshmallow stuck in the middle of it."
But more serious rhetoric remains plentiful as well. For a sense of how Congressional leaders are viewing the history attached to the vote they'll cast within hours, look no further than retiring 12-year House veteran Rep. Chip Pickering of Mississippi, who calls the bailout bill a "legacy" vote on par with members' decisions on the authorization of the Iraq war and on President Bill Clinton's impeachment. And Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) said that passing the bill would lead to a "Leviathan state," concluding soberly that, "Duty is ours. Outcomes belong to God."
Stay tuned... the clock continues to tick and the gavel falls in less than two hours.