CNN Congressional Correspondent
As negotiators move closer Tuesday evening to a compromise bill to bailout Detroit (see note from Ted and Deirdre) a small group of Senate Republicans are signaling they will try to slow its passage.
GOP Senator John Ensign said Tuesday he will filibuster the auto bailout unless there are major changes in the compromise that Democrats and the White House are close to forging.
An Ensign aide tells CNN that he will hold a press conference at noon Wednesday with about half a dozen GOP senators who intend to support his move.
It is important to note that even GOP opponents concede that the auto bailout may likely have the 60 votes to pass, but these GOP senators are trying to “slow the trains down to make a point,” according to the Ensign aide.
South Carolina Republican Senator Jim DeMint, who plans to appear with Ensign at Wednesday’s press conference, said he fully supports “extending debate” on the auto bailout legislation.
“This bailout will hurt taxpayers, it won't help the economy, and it will prevent these car companies from becoming competitive. The only way for the automakers to survive is a complete restructuring that allows them to break free from the stranglehold of union bosses,” said DeMint.
Not all Senators opposed to the Detroit bailout bill support a filibuster. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), said today he thought a filibuster would be unnecessary since he believes Democrats will likely have the 60 votes to pass the auto loan anyway.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has threatened to keep the Senate through the weekend to complete the bailout.
“The ball is in the Republicans’ court about when we vote,” said a senior Democratic leadership aide.
“We hope to hear more soon about whether they will give us consent to do this quickly or insist that we run out the clock. In short, we will be in as long as it takes to complete action on this.”
Senate Republicans will hold a previously planned lunch meeting Wednesday where they will have an intense discussion about the auto bailout.
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