As President Bush, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican congressional leaders urged the Senate to approve swiftly an economic rescue plan adopted by the House, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid suddenly seemed the odd man out, beating his partisan drum as the rest of Washington joined in a chorus of cooperation.
Reid assured everyone that the Senate would pass a stimulus bill no later than Friday, an ambitious deadline that he personally imposed and, ultimately, met by more than a week. But he also insisted that Senate Democrats would draw up their own economic plan, reflecting their priorities.
Even as Bush and Pelosi repeatedly prodded the Senate to act fast, Reid stood firm as the Senate plan's cost swelled to $204-billion with new provisions.
In the end, the Senate approved the House plan, and added more than $6-billion in payments for Social Security recipients and disabled veterans, but not before Reid tried to strong-arm Republicans into voting with him. Reid used hardball tactics and enlisted powerful interest groups like home builders, automakers, mortgage bankers and AARP.
He came within one vote of winning passage of the larger package. And even falling short, supporters say, he advanced Democratic priorities and lifted the party's chances of boosting control of the Senate to a filibuster-proof 60 seats in November.
By this calculation, some Republicans will pay a political price for voting to oppose Democratic additions to the stimulus plan, including a $1-billion increase in the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, known as Liheap, which provides subsidies for heating costs.