While the budget resolution is a nonbinding spending blueprint, it is considered the first political test for Bush's tax cut, as leaders from both parties started bargaining and pressure tactics to pull votes their way.
Finance Committee Ranking Member Max Baucus, D-Mont., said enough votes were still in play in the 50-50 Senate that the budget could pass or fail. "It is in the balance. It is right on the edge."
Sen. Zell Miller, D-Ga., has said he would vote for the budget resolution, but most Democrats and some liberal Republicans remain defiant.
Vice President Dick Cheney went to Capitol Hill Monday to do some last-minute negotiations with Republicans who could vote against the budget because they fear the tax cut is too large and might precipitate deficit spending.
Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I., said before his meeting with Cheney that the vice president would probably do some "arm twisting," but that he would not vote for the budget if it contained an outline for the full $1.6 trillion tax cut. Cheney also met with Vermont Republican senator Jim Jeffords.
Sen. Benjamin Nelson, D-Neb., said he was still undecided, but that both sides were vying for his vote. Nelson said he had been contacted by high-level Republicans to discuss the issue. "Persuasion is an artful word," Nelson said.
Some Senate observers said lawmakers such as Nelson might hold out for additional spending on their own priorities. For Nelson, and others, additional spending on agriculture programs might be useful.
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott signaled Monday that he would consider spending proposals for agriculture and defense that exceed the 4 percent increase Bush has set in his budget.
Lott said that the vote on the budget is up in the air. He urged Republicans to stick together.
"I think it is important that all Republicans give the president a chance," Lott said. "You never have the votes until you have the vote."
Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.