"Right now the bill looks awfully close to being killed," said TIME congressional correspondent John Dickerson. "There are procedural battles, political battles, even parliamentary battles -- precious few of them actually have to do with tobacco itself."
Republicans think the bill looks too much like tax-and-spend liberalism; they want to add tax cuts. Democrats like the bill as is; they're trying -- so far in vain -- to close debate and force a vote on the existing version. It's a good old-fashioned Senate stalemate, and suddenly the tobacco industry has something to chuckle about: An ugly Beltway bill is headed for an ugly Beltway funeral.