The House version of the $819 billion stimulus bill just passed 244-188. But in a minor surprise, the bill apparently passed without ANY Republican member voting for it. Twelve Democrats voted against the bill, meanwhile, based on the C-SPAN tally.
So here’s the key question: do the Republicans, having shown this much unity in the House, actually have a chance of filibustering the bill in the Senate?
I think that remains unlikely, for three reasons:
Firstly, the House Republican Caucus has shown much greater party discipline (or, if you prefer, much more partisanship) than the Senate has. In looking at the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, for instance, just 3 of 178 Republicans (1.7%) voted for the bill on the House side, but 5 of 41 (12.2%) did on the Senate side. Similarly, on the TARP (bailout) extension vote, Republican members of the Senate were considerably more likely than those in the House to side with the Administration. These sorts of differences are not necessarily uncommon and may be a consequence of the cultural and structural differences
Secondly, the Senate will be voting on its own version of the bill, not the House’s, and there has arguably a more bipartisan process in formulating the Senate version of the bill than in the House’s (Barack Obama’s meetings with House Republicans notwithstanding).
And thirdy, voting against a bill is one thing — filibustering it is another. Maybe an Olympia Snowe or a Judd Gregg, residing in states that Obama won by overwhelming margins, can get away with voting against the bill. But preventing it from coming to the floor is another, particularly when Obama has the advantage of the bully pulpit.