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February 8, 2021

Republicans Get Democrats on Record With Vote-a-Rama

Yet Senate Dems put their pork-laden “COVID relief” bill one step closer to Biden’s desk.

In the wee hours of Friday morning, the Senate finally adopted the Democrats’ budget resolution on a strict party-line vote, 51-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris providing the tiebreaking vote. That allows them to push through their COVID relief bill without needing 60 votes. Given the completely unrelated pork stuffed into it, it’s no wonder they needed that resolution.

Earlier on Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell led Republicans in a “vote-a-rama,” a marathon voting session that effectively forced Democrats to go on the record on a variety of issues that have little to do with COVID relief but serve to expose where senators stand. The approved resolution is not the final bill, though the House likewise passed a resolution Friday setting up the final bill.

Of most immediate interest, however, is where various Democrat senators landed on several of the amendments Republicans proposed. The Republicans filed 749 amendments, of which just 41 were voted on.

Some amendments passed easily. For example, passing with a 97-3 margin was the amendment to support keeping the U.S. embassy in Israel in Jerusalem, and an amendment that opposed defunding the police passed unanimously, 100-0. Good. Those should be easy.

However, many of the amendments failed on a strict party line. Those included support for the border wall, prohibiting infringement on religious freedom, opposing stimulus checks for people in prison, opposing Joe Biden’s moves against the oil and gas industry (specifically the Keystone pipeline), opposing ending the “Remain in Mexico” asylum policy, opposing a federal carbon tax, supporting funding for border security and enforcement of all immigration laws, and, tellingly, an amendment against packing the Supreme Court. The vote result on that last amendment may be a troubling indicator that Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is wavering on his commitment to stand against packing the court.

Republicans were successful in getting the $15 minimum wage boondoggle removed from the legislation. Senator Joni Ernst stated, “I got the entire Senate — Democrats and Republicans — to agree not to hike the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour during a global pandemic, which would kill jobs and destroy small businesses.”

Notwithstanding the strong-arm majority tactics, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was quick to slap the “bipartisan” label onto the Democrats’ massive spending bill. “Many bipartisan amendments were adopted,” he declared, “so this was a bipartisan activity.” Of course, he’s unlikely to see any Republicans vote in favor of the final “bipartisan” legislation, and the coming days will show if Schumer actually has all Democrats on board.

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