From NBC's Ken Strickland
Negotiations on the Nelson-Collins amendment to cut about $100 billion from the economic stimulus package are complete. The bipartisan group negotiating it has reached agreement on what items should be cut, according Sen. Ben Nelson, the group leading Democrat.
But Nelson says he's shy two Republican votes to ensure the amendment's passage. "The hope is we'll pick up two more Republicans, and if we're able to do that then I think we'll have sufficient numbers to get a vote and pass the alternative," Nelson said walking into a meeting with Democratic leaders.
Walking into that same meeting was Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, also part of the Nelson-Collins bipartisan group. She mentioned two of the major GOP concerns about the stimulus bill: the cost and the composition.
As it relates to composition, she says some Republicans are against the notion of having the federal government taking on responsibilities that historically were done by the states. "They're not arguing that they're stimulative. They're not arguing that they're needed. They're arguing about the precedent we're setting of the federal government beginning to do things like school construction."
*** UPDATE *** Here's the state of play at the moment... more negotiations.
Everything seems to be revolving around the Nelson-Collins proposal to cut $100 billion from the stimulus bill and mustering enough Republican support to get the 60 votes needed to pass it.
The Nelson-Collins gang presented their proposal to Majority Leader Harry Reid. Reid has made a counter proposal to Republicans. Republicans Collins and Arlen Specter will take Reid's offer to their Republican members to see if there's enough support to pass it.
That's where we are.