Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Vote on flag desecration may be 'cliffhanger'.
Amendment supporters say last year's election expanding the Senate Republican majority to 55 has buoyed their hopes for passage. Five freshmen senators - Richard Burr of North Carolina, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, John Thune of South Dakota and David Vitter of Louisiana - voted for the amendment as House members and plan to do so again.
They will be joined by at least five Democrats who have co-sponsored the resolution, including Dianne Feinstein of California and Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Both are up for re-election next year.
Not all senators have publicly declared their support or opposition.
In 2000, when the Senate last took up the matter, 63 voted for the amendment, four short of a two-thirds majority.
"We're going to have deeper support for this, and the intensity is growing," Thune said Tuesday, which was Flag Day. "There's momentum."
Norm Ornstein, a political analyst at the business-oriented American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, says he expects "a cliffhanger." He says Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., is eager to bring up the issue, and some Democrats may be too nervous to oppose it.