Yesterday "The Accidental Senator," Florida Republican George LeMieux showed what passes for courage this days in Washington when he voted against his party's default position of "no" on a bill pushed by Democrats that they say will help small businesses, including a $30 billion fund designed to encourage community banks to lend to small firms.
LeMieux said he supported the bill because he believes it will help small businesses in Florida. There's also $12 billlion in tax cuts included in the legislation. When asked what he would tell his fellow Republicans, who were calling the bill "son of TARP' or "TARP Juinor", Senator LeMieux said they were wrong, saying it will help Main Street, not Wall Street. I have visited with small business owners all across Florida, and they tell me they cannot grow and create more jobs because banks are not making the loans they traditionally make. This bill will help free up capital and point our economy in the right direction."
LeMieux joined Ohio Senator George Voinovich in being the only Republicans in the Senate to support the Democrats in shutting off debate. It's expected to be passed by Senate later this week and then reconciled with a House version before President Obama signs it into law (coincidentally both LeMieux and Voinovich are not running for re-election in November, though LeMieux remains a serious candidate to be the GOP candidate against Bill Nelson in 2012).
Speaking of Senator Nelson, we haven't heard him budge yet on joining other recalcitrant Democrats in supporting efforts to maintain all of the Bush tax cuts. Currently five Senate Democrats (Evan Bayh, Kent Conrad, Ben Nelson, Jim Webb and Joe Lieberman, who isn't officially a "D" but caucuses with them) support extending all of the 2001 and 2003 tax rates beyond their current expiration date.
Yesterday Maine's Olympia Snowe said that she wants to extend all of the tax cuts, which means for those counting at home, 41 Republicans + 5 Democrats = 46 Senators who say they want to maintain the tax cuts for everybody next year. Also, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has no intention of compromising with the White House, and I suspect House Minority Leader John Boehner doesn't either, despite the headline grabbing story from Sunday that Boehner would be up for compromising with the White House on those tax cuts. If anybody had seen his interview with CBS' Bob Schieffer when he made that statement, you could tell that it was almost made to get the ornery newsman off the question, and all indications are that Boehner wasn't really speaking for rank and file Republican House members who have no desire to do any such thing.