The Wall Street Journal editors are tickled:
In a vote late Wednesday, no fewer than 26 Democrats joined all 41 Republicans to insist that any new cap and tax on carbon energy would require at least 60 votes.
Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander called it “the biggest vote of the year” so far, and he’s right. This means Majority Leader Harry Reid can’t jam cap and tax through as part of this year’s budget resolution with a bare majority of 50 Senators. More broadly, it’s a signal that California and East Coast Democrats won’t be able to sock it to coal and manufacturing-heavy Midwestern states without a fight. Senators voting in favor of the 60-vote rule included liberals from Wisconsin, Michigan and West Virginia.
They might not want to break out the champagne quite yet. There is a conference ahead during which the House and Senate versions of the budget will be ironed out. If you recall, that is where the mischief on AIG bonuses occurred last time. There’s no guarantee of what will be put back in and what will come out the other end.
But we do know the president’s majorities are getting narrower. The budget passed the House with no Republican votes and 20 Democrats defectors. It passed the Senate by a 55-43 margin, with no Republican votes and two Democrats voting “no.” That is considerably worse than his tally on the stimulus bill. It seems that the more of his agenda he makes public, the fewer votes he gathers. For fiscal conservatives, this is progress.