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Late-night shenanigans on the Hill: UAW bailout watch; Update: Union negotiations fall apart. Good! Headed for cloture; Final vote: 52-35. FAIL!

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By Michelle Malkin  •  December 11, 2008 07:58 PM

Scroll for updates…10:15pm Eastern. Latest word from the Hill: Talks between UAW and Corker fall apart. Excellent news for bailout opponents…more below…McConnell and Reid on floor discussing timing of cloture vote…Reid wants vote at 10:40pm Eastern…Countrywide Chris Dodd whining…Corker: “We were three words away” from a deal…GOP wanted a “date certain” on reform…more below…roll call vote on cloture motion underway…waiting…11:07pm Eastern. 52-35. Falls short of the required 60 votes. FAIL!!!!

What’s going on behind closed doors tonight in Washington?

The headlines earlier today declared the UAW bailout “dead” or “stalled.” The stories were cause for (momentary) cheer.

But the fix is in, as I’ve said from the start. Now, we will see if the GOP mavericks are truly up to the task of carrying through the filibuster threat.

I linked to the Corker amendment endorsed by Mitch McConnell earlier this afternoon. Are these concessions enough? What exactly are labor leaders going to agree to? It’s the subject of heated negotiations going on through the night — while taxpayers are left in the dark.

Dingy Harry is buoyed by the revived chances:

Prospects for an auto industry bailout revived in the U.S. Senate on Thursday as surprise negotiations on a compromise moved forward and a vote was possible later in the day.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor that the deal, if struck, “would overwhelmingly pass” the chamber that just hours ago seemed resigned to sending the automakers back to Detroit empty-handed.

The scenario at the core of the possible compromise was proposed by Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, who would grant loans under stricter conditions than favored by Democrats and the White House.

“Good faith negotiations are going on as we speak,” Reid said.

“Good faith” and “Reid” and “unions?”

Ha.

A Beltway source e-mailed me:

There is growing support for Sen. Corker’s amendment, which forces the Big Three and the UAW specifically to make more concessions. While this amendment puts Congress in the role of playing bankruptcy judge, it does seem to improve the Democrat/White House bill. I expect the Corker amendment to pass. Every Republican will vote for it and the UAW will find it preferable to bankruptcy. Also, I won’t be surprised if the Democrats convince Corker to water down his amendment but that remains to be seen. The other factor in this equation is whether or not Democrats believe they can get the same money from the White House through TARP but without Corker’s restrictions. If they believe that’s the case, they might kill the Corker amendment and let the whole thing fail. But I believe the most likely outcome is that Corker will pass and the final bill will pass too. It will be another “bipartisan” accomplishment. Republicans join Democrats in passing a modified auto bailout.

Bailout Heavy or Bailout Lite, it’s still a massive bailout — and just the first installment at that.

What’s the rush? Why are we short-circuiting the deliberative process again? The buzz is that several Senators have congressional delegation trips planned for tomorrow and want to hurry up and get on with their travel.

Your tax dollars at work.

Staying tuned and will keep you updated.

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Here is the text of a stronger amendment from Ensign and Shelby.

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Update 9:20pm Eastern…Brace yourselves...

Officials say Republican and Democratic senators are struggling to resolve one last dispute standing in the way of an emergency bailout for U.S. automakers.

The top Senate Democrat says the compromise could see a vote tonight. Majority Leader Harry Reid says the lead Republican architect of the deal is briefing colleagues on its outlines, and Democrats were prepared to move forward on it quickly.

His announcement came after hours of marathon talks at the Capitol between labor, lawmakers and the auto industry to salvage the Big Three rescue. The talks centered on wage and benefit concessions from the United Auto Workers union as well as debt restructuring by General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.

It wasn’t immediately clear what was standing in the way of a final agreement.

10:15pm Eastern…Fresh word from the Hill…

Latest word is that UAW blew up the negotiations with Corker. Would not make key pay concessions, so likely the bill will go straight to cloture either tonight or tomorrow. If this stands, and we defeat the bill, Corker must be commended for walking away from a bad deal. Reid discussing on floor now.

10:20pm Eastern. Looks like cloture vote may occur in 20 minutes. Countrywide Chris Dodd is giving his Chicken Little sermon about the dangers of the auto industry collapsing. Dodd lavishes praise on Bush White House. Blech. God save us from bipartisanship.

10:30pm Eastern. Bob Corker takes the floor. Says he was “three words” away from deal with union. GOP wanted “date certain” on conditions/reform being met.

Richard Shelby speaks. “We all in America will benefit from competition. There’s no reason for Big 3 not to be competitive…Bailouts just don’t generally work. I fear this is just a down payment on more next year. I vote no.”

Stabenow whining about demands for union concessions. Babs Mikulski calls for order, bleats that Stabenow is not being heard. Get out the Kleenex. They both seem on the verge of tears. Stabenow concedes the “votes are not there.”

10:42pm Eastern. Here we go. Cloture motion underway.

Quick typing here, but here are some of the ayes and nays so far on record…

Nays so far: Allard Burr Bunning Barasso Chambliss Cochran Crapo Ensign Hatch Hutchison Isakson McCain McConnell Tester Thune Enzi Coleman Sessions Murkowski Corker Bennett Grassley Gregg Bond.

Some GOP Ayes on record: Brownback Warner Voinovich. Specter.

Democrat Sen. Blanche Lincoln: No.

11:05pm Eastern. Bond switches to Aye?!!!!

Reid votes no for procedural reasons.

Final tally: 52-35.

FAIL!

Reid says the issue won’t be taken up again until next session.

Can we kill it? Yes, conservatives did.

Thank you, GOP mavericks, for leading the way.

11:17pm Eastern. Democrats give their wound-licking speeches.

Barbara Boxer gives her Woman of the People sermon. She’s vowing to convince Paulson to intervene. Double crikey. Hope and change is on the way!

12:16am Eastern. Last update for the night…here’s the roll call vote.

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