Republicans pulled out all the stops, twisted every arm, and pushed as hard as they could, but in the end, enough Dems held firm and blocked the GOP's cynical ploy.
Senate Democrats blocked a Republican bid to combine a tax cut for the wealthy with a wage increase for the working poor last night, adding a volatile economic issue to this fall's congressional campaigns.
GOP leaders fell three votes short of the 60 needed to cut off debate and bring the package to the Senate floor, where it was considered certain to pass on a simple-majority vote.
Here's the final roll-call vote. In the end, four Dems broke ranks -- Byrd (D-W. Va.), Lincoln (D-Ark.), Nelson (D-Fla.), Nelson (D-Neb.) -- and two Republicans voted against the GOP measure -- Chafee (R-R.I.) and Voinovich (R-Ohio). Bill Frist officially voted against it, but only for procedural reasons (by voting against it, he reserves the option of bringing the bill back to the floor later).
Last night featured all of the predictable rhetoric and arguments, but my nominee for the dumbest comment of the debate comes by way of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas): "[W]e are turning our back on the middle-class and poor people in this country who depend on the minimum wage and death-tax relief."
First, if Hutchison and the rest of the GOP are worried about low-income workers who need a minimum-wage increase, they can join Dems and support a free-standing bill. Second, if Hutchison can find a single poor person who depends on "death-tax relief," I'll campaign on her behalf.
--Guest Post by Steve Benen, The Carpetbagger Report