Just spoke to a spokesman for a Republican opposed to the deal, and helping lead the opposition. Here’s what we know right now:
1. Tomorrow is the first test, on the vote to bring it back to the floor. Deal supporters need 60. Opponents think they have about 33-35 right now, so they only need about five to seven more. Kirkorian’s earlier Corner post was praised for its accuracy.
Some Republicans on the fence are going to try to have it both ways – vote to bring it back to the floor, so they can get their amendments considered, but not necessarily promise to vote for a) cloture to cut off debate and b) passage. Nonetheless, bill opponents should not forgive a vote to bring it back to the floor, I’m told. They’re within a few votes of killing the deal before it comes back; why take the chance on a later vote?
2. The fact that senators are announcing how they will vote on a “procedural” vote is a huge sign of how much pressure they’re feeling. For opponents, it’s reason for very cautious optimism.
3. A loss tomorrow means there are still two more chances to kill the bill; still, a good opportunity will have been missed.
4. The cloture vote may come before, or after, consideration of certain amendments. Skeptics should not be all that impressed with amendments approved by Reid and Kennedy. Less likely than “poison pills” are “fig leaf” amendments that improve the bill in cosmetic ways, but don’t significantly address the real problems with the bill.