The bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Mike Castle of Delaware, is expected to pass both chambers of Congress by comfortable margins. The question is whether opponents will get the 34 senators needed to sustain a veto by President Bush. Nelson and Casey are both likely to be needed to reach that number.
Nelson was the only Democrat to vote against the bill last July, and Casey during his recent campaign went on record against the Castle bill. They will be under heavy Democratic pressure to override Bush.
Close associates of Sen. Thad Cochran, top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, are cautiously optimistic that in 2008 at age 70 he will run for a sixth term in 2008 for a Mississippi seat that otherwise might be in jeopardy for the GOP.
Cochran is less than certain to run because he lost his Appropriations chairmanship in the recent elections. His decision may be based on his evaluation of chances to regain a GOP majority within the next six years. Mississippi Republicans had worried about losing the state's other Senate seat before Sen. Trent Lott decided to seek another term in 2006. Former State Atty. Gen. Mike Moore, the probable Democratic Senate candidate, is better known than Rep. Chip Pickering, the leading Republican prospect if there is an open seat.
A footnote: Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, an overwhelming favorite for re-election in 2007, has ruled out a Senate bid even if Cochran retires. Becoming a senator was a youthful ambition of Barbour, who was the Republican Senate nominee in 1982 at age 35.