Republicans and a dozen Democratic defectors in the Senate dealt a defeat to President Barack Obama Wednesday, just days after he pressed Congress to renew pieces of last year's economic stimulus bill.
A catchall measure combining jobless aid for the long-term unemployed, aid to cash-strapped state governments and the renewal of dozens of popular tax breaks for businesses and individuals failed to muster even a majority in a test vote, much less the 60 votes that would be required to defeat a GOP filibuster.
Now, Obama's Democratic allies have been forced back to the drawing board in their efforts to pass the measure, which also would protect doctors from a looming cut in Medicare payments and raise taxes on investment fund managers. A new, scaled back version of the measure is likely to be revealed Wednesday afternoon.
Just on Saturday, Obama made a plea for the measure, including $24 billion in aid to cash-strapped state governments to help avoid tens of thousands of layoffs and ensure the economy doesn't slip back into a recession.
To try to revive the bill, top Democrats are expected to roll back last year's $25 a week increase in unemployment checks and give doctors just a short reprieve from scheduled cuts in their Medicare payments instead of relief until the end of next year. Democratic leaders promise to restore the $24 billion in state aid that was struck by Wednesday's vote.
It's just like 1937 all over again.