Let no one say that the Democrats put together the smallest possible coalition to get the stimulus bill past a filibuster. With their 58 votes (including those of two independents), they need two Republican votes to invoke cloture, and pave the way toward a vote on final passage. Instead, they followed through on their plan that I mentioned on Saturday: they garnered no less than three Republican votes!
Now, the Democrats were elected to govern, and they should do so, subject to those procedures that protect the minority position, such as the cloture rule. But I find it interesting how quickly their rhetoric of bipartisanship has come up against the realities of day-to-day politics.
Secretary of Commerce-designate Judd Gregg, who is still a Republican senator from New Hampshire, was absent. As Church Lady would say, "how convenient!"
UPDATE: The Senate vote on final passage was in line with the cloture vote. The only three Republicans in favor were Specter, Collins and Snowe. And again, Gregg abstained. Of course, with the House having approved a different version, final passage isn't final. The two houses will need to reconcile their differences before the bill goes to President Obama.
FURTHER UPDATE: I've finally got around to watching the entirety of the president's press conference. He says he'll work on developing bipartisanship, and breaking Washington's bad habits, over a period of time. I'm reminded of President Reagan's 1986 tax bill, which passed Congress almost unanimously, including a House with a Democratic majority. His 1981 tax bill was mainly supported by his fellow Republicans, but it had more bipartisan support than the Obama plan, and there was a Democratic majority in the lower house at that time, also. Then, five years later, Reagan was able to get a truly bipartisan tax plan enacted. We'll see what Obama accomplishes, as time goes on. And by the way, why, when most Democrats in 1986 supported lowering the top marginal income tax rate to 28%, did they later want to crucify George W. Bush for getting it lowered to 35%?