From NBC's Ken Strickland
At 6 p.m. today, the Senate will take the final vote on Tim Geithner's nomination to become Secretary of Treasury.
It appears all but certain he will be confirmed with no known opposition from any of the 58 Senate Democrats (and only 51 are needed for confirmation). But it remains to be seen how many Republicans will vote against him.
Today, moderate Republican Susan Collins issued a statement saying she'll vote "nay," because he neglected to pay self-employment taxes.
"When these issues first arose, they were cited as examples of the baffling complexity of our tax code and of the need for reform," Collins said. "As more details have emerged, it has become clear to me that this is not merely a matter of complexity leading to mistakes, but of inexcusable negligence."
Last week, when the Senate Finance Committee voted favorably to send the nomination to the full Senate, half of the Republicans on the panel voted against him: Grassley, Roberts, Bunning, Kyl and Enzi.
Since then, a few other Republicans -- not on the committee -- have joined their ranks, including Richard Burr and Jeff Sessions.
"I have decided to vote against Mr. Geithner's nomination, because his failure to properly pay his taxes on multiple occasions was, in my view, likely a deliberate attempt to avoid his tax obligations," Session said in a statement last week.
The circumstances are such that several others could join the opposition. For senators already considering their reelection prospects, a "no" vote may win them points back home.
With constituents fed up with Wall Street, bailouts and corporate types defrauding the system, voting against Geithner could rally populist support without the responsibility of killing a popular nomination.
*** UPDATE *** Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin just said on the floor he will not vote for Geithner.
*** UPDATE 2 *** We Senate watchers are still convinced Tim Geithner will be confirmed by the Senate when the chamber votes at 6 p.m., but you wouldn't know if you've been watching the debate today. Republican support is scarce, and the Democrats have just had their first defection in Harkin.
Since the debated started at 4pm today, only one Republican (Hatch) has spoken on the floor in support of Geithner. Most of the time has been used by Republicans who've come out AGAINST him.
The most notable Republican to oppose the nominee is moderate Republican Susan Collins. Other Republicans to announce there "no" votes today, included Chambliss, Inhofe, Thune, and Martinez.
By our unofficial tally thus far--based on committee votes, floor speeches, and press releases--there will be at least 12 GOP "nay" votes.