New Momentum For Senate To Take Up Bailout?

Three Republicans in a row have marched to the Senate floor today to call for the upper chamber to take up and pass the $700 billion economic crisis legislation, saying the Senate needs to send the right message to the world economy after the effort imploded on the House floor Monday.

Despite the volatility of the issue, Senate Republicans are now pushing for the Senate to forge ahead on the legislation. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says there are no immediate plans for the Senate to take the lead, adding that Reid was going to "proceed very cautiously" given the failure of the bill in the House.

But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), seemed to step out in front of the situation this morning, despite facing resistance from conservatives in his caucus and an increasingly tough re-election back home in Kentucky.

"I too want to reassure the American people that we intend to pass this legislation this week,"
McConnell "We will pass it on a broad bipartisan basis, both sides cooperating to prevent this financial crisis from persisting. I think the message from the markets yesterday was clear. The time for finger pointing indeed has come to an end."

Before the House vote on Monday, Reid confidently predicted the Senate would easily get 60 votes on the bailout bill. No such predictions are now being made, and Democrats aren't out on the Senate floor offering passionate pleas to pass the bill.

Which is why the Senate GOP gambit is such an interesting twist given the House Republican revolt on this legislation.

Senate GOP Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), along with Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), also pleaded for passage of the bill, backing McConnell's push. 

"Does it solve all our problems? No," said Gregg, one of the 'big four' negotiators on the legislation. "But we are putting a tourniquet on the economy so it can stand up on its own two feet."

Gregg, along with other supporters, are trying out a new strategy on this legislation, backing away from words like "Wall Street" and "bailout," instead pointing out that the credit freeze will prevent local hospitals, industrial parks and small businesses from getting the loans to build and expand.

Reid spokesman Jim Manley said the Senate would keep its options open.

"Democrats will look at all options to move forward on a rescue proposal that prevents a serious economic crisis, bring much-needed oversight and transparency and protects taxpayers," Manley said. "But we will need Republicans and Democrats alike to work together in a bipartisan fashion to get this done."

 Today in the Capitol, White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten is lobbying House Republicans who seem open to changing their vote, according to House aides. And on the Senate side, Reid is meeting with Banking Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and other key negotiators on the bailout bill.