How Many Democrats Will Vote Against Obama's Jobs Bill?

The president's $447 billion package will almost certainly fail in the Senate Tuesday night -- and members of his own party could help stall it

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From left to right: Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), and Jon Tester (Mont.)

The Senate will vote Tuesday evening on President Obama's $447 jobs bill, which he's been promoting in appearances around the country. The bill will almost certainly fail.

Democrats control 53 Senate seats, and they'll need 60 votes to clear a procedural hurdle and move toward final consideration. With Republicans pledging to block the plan, Tuesday's vote will be a "test vote," measuring how much support Obama's bill enjoys.

A few Democrats will likely vote against it. The question, now, is how many.

In an interview with MSNBC's Chuck Todd on Tuesday morning, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) hinted that some Democrats will probably vote no.

"We're likely to lose two, three, four Democrats," Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told Chicago's WTTW TV on Monday. When asked on Tuesday how many Democrats will support the president's plan, Durbin spokesman Max Gleischman said that "the vast majority" will back it.

A few Democratic "no" votes could look bad for the president, as Republicans have sought to highlight a lack of support for the package in Obama's own party. But Democratic leaders almost always lose a few votes from swing-state senators, and if Obama's bill fails, it will be almost exclusively because Republicans oppose it.

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A handful of Democrats criticized the bill soon after Obama pitched it in a speech to Congress on Sept. 8. Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) said Obama had offered "terrible" ideas for how to pay for it; Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) cited "a lot of skepticism about big pieces of legislation," suggesting Congress should break it up into pieces.

Democratic leaders have re-worked parts of the bill to gain more Democratic support. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) replaced the White House's suggested deficit offsets with a five-percent tax hike on millionaires, stripping some tax hikes on oil companies to gain the support of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).

Sens. Casey, Tom Carper (D-Del.), and Landrieu have all jumped on board after their initial concerns were allayed. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D), facing a tough re-election race in Missouri, has been promoting the bill back home.

The most likely Democratic "no" votes are:

  • Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who asked on Sept. 17, "If spending money would solve our problems and crisis in America, we wouldn't have a problem right now because we sure did our share of spending money in the last few years. It's just common sense to me. If some of the recommendations that are out there hadn't worked in the past, why would we do them over again?"
  • Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who said last week he would filibuster the bill. His office told The Atlantic today that Nelson has not yet decided how he will vote.
  • Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who said last week he will not support the bill unless it's changed to include more infrastructure projects.
  • Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), who has not spoken publicly in favor of the bill after criticizing its deficit offsets initially, despite Reid's changes.

Obama's bill may fall short of 50 "yes" votes. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) supports the bill but will likely miss Tuesday's vote. She has informed Democratic leaders that she will return to Washington if her vote is needed, but it appears Shaheen will stay in her home state. If the vote fails as expected, Reid may vote "no" for procedural reasons, in order to preserve his right to introduce the bill again. With two policy-based "no" votes out of Democrats' 53 total seats, the president's bill could wind up with only 49 votes in its favor.

Image credit: Reuters