December 10th, 2008
12:03 PM ET

An auto bailout deal – start your engines

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/11/20/congress.auto.bailout/art.capitolday.gi.jpg]

Dana Bash, Ted Barrett and Deirdre Walsh
CNN Capitol Hill Team

House Democratic leaders and White House negotiators finalized an agreement on a 15 billion dollar auto bailout, and House Democratic leaders are moving to bring it to a vote.

The agreement between negotiators was finalized Wednesday morning after Democrats agreed to a Republican demand that they drop a provision blocking Detroit from filing lawsuits on greenhouse gas emissions.

House Democrats are meeting this morning to discuss the measure. House Democratic leaders are hoping to hold a vote Wednesday, but the timing is still up in the air.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced “it appears unlikely” that the Senate will vote today on the auto bail out legislation. That is because the final text of the 25-page bill is not completed and Senate Republicans have told him they want to study it before deciding how to proceed.

McConnell confirmed that when he said “there can not be a vote today” until Republicans can review the bill.

White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolton will attend the Senate GOP policy lunch in the Capitol today to try to persuade skeptical GOP senators to support the bill.

A GOP senate aide emphasized how crucial this meeting is going to be, since Republicans have not been involved in the negotiations and have to be convinced that the white house sufficiently represented their concerns and interests.

It is unlikely that the White House will be able to sway Republicans like John Ensign and Jim DeMint, who say they are going slow the bill down in the Senate.

But the big question is whether the white house can convince enough Republicans so that they can get 60 votes to overcome opposition among those GOP senators.

Meanwhile, Reid said if Senate Democrats and Republicans can not reach an agreement to cut through the procedural steps opponents of the bill are likely to require, the Senate won’t have final passage until late Saturday night or Sunday.

However, Reid held out hope that an agreement will be reached to require a 60-vote threshold for the bill - the same vote total needed to break a time-consuming filibuster – but allow final passage by perhaps Friday.

One other note: Reid said Biden has told him he will come back if his vote is needed.

Filed under: Bailout Turmoil • Dana Bash • Deirdre Walsh • Raw Politics • Ted Barrett
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