Senator Reid, counting noses, decided to withdraw his objection to debating the FAIR Act. (Jan. 31). However, many senators who voted in favor of allowing debate to proceed merely wanted to avoid the appearance of obstructionism, and one can expect many other attempts to kill the bill, including from conservatives who are concerned that the bill does not have sufficient safeguards to prevent the trust fund from becoming a drain on the public fisc. "Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg, R-N.H., is considering filing a procedural motion that would take 60 votes to overcome, on the grounds that that the bill would affect the budget in violation of the rules"; many senators who voted to allow debate to proceed will be willing to block the bill on these grounds. (Laurie Kellman, AP, Feb. 7). Another likely tactic will be the attempted use of poison-pill riders, which killed a gun-liability reform bill in 2004. The current bill has a scientifically-questionable loophole to benefit residents of Libby, Montana, to obtain the votes of the two Montana senators; Democrats are likely to try to expand those loopholes, which would eviscerate the bill. On the other hand, Republican efforts to tighten medical criteria for the bill or otherwise patch potential "leakiness" may peel away critical Democrat votes. A filibuster is almost certain. It's far from likely that there is a legislative compromise that can obtain fifty, much less sixty, votes. A Wall Street Journal article details some of the objections.
BREAKING: Senate votes to allow FAIR Act debate to proceed