Well, the Conference on the stimulus bill has begun. Conference Committees are interesting animals....leadership in both chambers appoint a limited number of members, and their job is to reconcile the differences between bills passed by each of the chambers. Sometimes they compromise, sometimes they accept in whole one or the other versions of the bill, sometimes they fail, and sometimes they come up with entirely new bills.
While both bills are stinkers, the one passed by the Senate stinks less. It has more in immediately stimulative tax incentives and less in porky spending designed to support Democratic policy initiatives. The stuff the Senate cut out in order to obtain the votes of Snowe, Collins and Specter (necessary to get them past the 60 votes needed for cloture), is VERY important to the House, and House conferees will fight hard to get it back in the final bill.
There is still hope....if House conferees stick to their guns and the final bill out of conference is even bigger than either of the two versions going in, Snowe, Collins and Specter will be tested...all have said they would look askance at a final bill that looked bigger than the one they passed. If two of the three turned against the bill, then Senate Democrats could not muster the 60 votes needed for cloture, and the bill would not come up for a vote. Then its back to the drawing board.