WASHINGTON (CNN) - The stage is set for a nail-biter of a vote in the Senate late Thursday or Friday on a giant spending bill that’s been the subject of fierce debate because of its high costs and the thousands of pet projects it funds, according to multiple Senate sources who are tracking the vote count.
A Democratic leadership aide says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is working the phones to get the 60 votes he needs to pass the $410 billion measure, which funds the government for the rest of the year with about an eight percent increase in spending.
If the Senate fails to pass the omnibus spending bill, Reid has said they would pass what is known as a continuing resolution to keep the government running past Friday. That would mean the much talked about 8,500 earmarks worth close to $8 billion would not get through Congress.
In the past 24 hours, two Democratic senators, Evan Bayh of Indiana and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, announced they would not vote for the spending bill because of its high cost. Other Democratic senators, such as Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, are still weighing their votes.
Despite the uncertainty on the Democratic side of the aisle, some aides predicted enough Republicans would vote for the bill to ensure its passage, pointing to GOP votes on key amendments this week that indicate Republican support for the final bill.
Democrats will likely schedule the vote Thursday night if they are confident they have the votes in line, but will push it to Friday if they’re uncertain.