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Automaker bailout appears stalled in Senate

  • Story Highlights
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid cancels plan to hold test vote Thursday
  • Reid opens door for last-minute compromise, but says "we have to face reality"
  • House aide: Compromise that would pass House "very unlikely"
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From Dana Bash and Dierdre Walsh
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reversed plans to hold a test vote Thursday on a Democratic-sponsored automakers bailout bill but held out the possibility for a last-minute vote on any compromise.

But a House Democratic leadership aide said a compromise had little chance in the House, whose members expect to leave town for the year on Thursday afternoon.

Reid had planned to vote on legislation that would have taken $25 billion from the $700 billion already approved for Wall Street and divert it to the Big Three automakers. But an aide said he decided to hold the legislation when it became clear it would fall well short of the 60 votes needed to pass.

Reid did, however, make a procedural move that could allow a vote on a compromise, which several senators from auto-producing states are feverishly trying to craft. Video Watch why the Big Three bailout is stalled »

Still, a Democratic leadership aide suggested the chances those senators could come up with something acceptable -- with the votes to pass the Senate and eventually the House -- are not very good. Reid himself acknowledged as much from the Senate floor.

"I understand the importance of this," Reid said. "But I would hope that in addition to understanding the importance of this, we have to face reality. And the reality is that we've tried a number of different approaches."

A senior House Democratic leadership aide said the outlook for a last-minute Senate compromise in the House would be grim.


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "has made clear that's not going to fly," the aide said.

The aide said "no one wants to say die" on trying to revive something before members leave town -- as they expect to do Thursday afternoon -- but it's "very unlikely" that will happen.

The Senate on Thursday is expected to take up a bill to extend unemployment benefits -- which the House approved in September.

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