In an uncertain reach across party lines, Senate moderates struggled for a compromise on legislation Thursday as the government spit out grim new jobless figures and President Barack Obama warned of more bad news ahead.
With partisan tensions rising, several Republican attempts to remake the bill — with higher tax cuts, lower spending and fresh relief for homeowners — failed on party-line votes.
By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent
“This is the moment for leadership that matches the great test of our time,” Obama said Thursday night as the Senate plodded through a fourth day of debate on the legislation at the heart of his economic recovery plan. Earlier, he declared, “The time for talk is over. The time for action is now.”
The president added he would “love to see additional improvements” in the bill, a gesture to the moderates from both parties who were at work trying to trim the bill with a newly recalculated, $937 billion price tag.
After fitful, secretive talks lasting well into the evening, the would-be compromisers remained shy of agreement, and, D-Nev., announced they could have another day to work at it.
Left Behind law on the chopping block as well., D-Mo., said the group was discussing reductions in the bill in the range of $100 billion or more and expressed optimism about the outcome. No details were available. A roster of $88 billion worth of cuts was circulating Thursday, almost half of which would come from education grants to states, with an additional $13 billion in aid the local school districts for special education and the No Child
But the group is also hoping to add perhaps $25 billion in infrastructure projects.
Increasingly, the events that mattered most were not the long roll calls on the Senate floor, but the private conversations in which the White House and Democratic leaders sought — either with the support of a large group of centrist lawmakers or without them — to clear the bill.