Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is preparing a welter of amendments to a budget resolution – essential to passing President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 stimulus package – for a grueling “vote-a-rama” on Thursday.
Democrats have signaled that they will press ahead to pass the $1.9 trillion package without GOP support using budget reconciliation, a process that prevents filibustering and would allow the bill to pass with a simple majority of 51 votes.
However, the price for using this measure is receiving a barrage of amendments from the GOP to the budget resolution needed to pass the stimulus package. That’s likely to keep the Senate debating for hours.
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Republicans had filed at least 400 amendments by Wednesday night, Roll Call reported.
“Senate Republicans will be ready and waiting with a host of amendments to improve the rushed procedural step that’s being jammed through,” McConnell said on the Senate floor this week.
“We’ll be getting senators on the record about whether taxpayers should fund checks for illegal immigrants, whether Democrats should raise taxes on small businesses in the midst of this historic crisis, and whether generous federal funding should pour into school districts where the unions refuse to let schools open,” he continued. “And this is just a small taste.”
Other proposed amendments include measures to preserve former President Donald Trump’s southern border wall and to reverse Biden’s decision to halt construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, according to Politico.
Faced with accusations of a lack of bipartisanship, the White House has signaled that Biden is open to some adjustments to the stimulus package from the GOP but that flexibility may be limited.
The president has rejected outright a slimmed-down proposal from Republicans that was about a third of the cost of his package. But he has signaled that there’s room for adjustment on income thresholds for stimulus checks; under his plan, people earning $75,000 or less would receive the full $1,400 check.
A vote-a-rama followed the last use of budget reconciliation, in 2017, when Republicans passed a sweeping tax law without Democratic support.
Lawmakers see this process as not only a way to shape legislation but a prime way to score points and mine footage for attack ads. McConnell hinted at this by painting a picture of what he believed voters would see this time around.
“The American people will see Republicans are focused on smart and responsible policies to reopen the country,” he said, while Democrats would be seen as “desperate” to force through a “poorly targeted borrowing spree.”
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