Senate rejects Sessions’s attempt to call up budget amendments

Greg Nash

Sen. Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsMaine Republican senator suggests she could back Trump Trump snags third House committee chair endorsement Trump seeks approval from foreign policy experts, but hits snags MORE (R-Ala.) tried to bring up an amendment to stop a $6 billion cut in military retiree benefits, but didn’t have the votes to set aside the pending amendments.

On Tuesday, Sessions tried to force the Senate to reopen the amendment process on a bipartisan budget deal. Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidDemocrats race to link GOP incumbents to Trump Mellman: Give positive a chance Koch network super-PAC launches ad buys in Wisconsin, Nevada MORE (D-Nev.) “filled the amendment tree” to stop other senators from being able to amend the deal.

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“The legislation before us today now is brought forward in a way that will not allow any amendments,” Sessions said. “Nobody can get an amendment to fix this part of the legislation that plainly needs fixing.”

The Senate is considering a budget deal negotiated by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty MurrayPatty MurrayRyan goes all-in on Puerto Rico Overnight Healthcare: Medicare fight looms on Capitol Hill Senate GOP hardening stance against emergency funding for Zika MORE (D-Wash.) and her House counterpart, Rep. Paul RyanPaul RyanThe Hill's 12:30 Report Ayotte alarmed by sped-up Gitmo reviews House Dems call for 0 million to fight opioid abuse MORE (R-Wis.). The bill sets top-line spending levels for 2014 and 2015 and reduces the sequester spending cuts by $63 billion over the next two years.

To offset the restored sequester cuts, the bill would reduce federal employee retirement benefits by $6 billion. Military retiree benefits are also cut by $6 billion.

Sessions asked to set aside Reid’s amendments in order to call up his own, but he didn’t have the votes needed to accomplish the procedural move — a simple majority.

Before the failed 46-54 vote, Murray said Sessions’s motion would “jeopardize” the entire deal, which the House overwhelmingly passed last week. She also said the benefit cuts don't go into effect for two years, giving lawmakers plenty of time to find another way to save $6 billion.

“Jeopardizing this deal right now only threatens our national security,” Murray said. “There is no doubt that improvements will be made where needed, but this motion is an effort to bring down this bill.”

Sens. Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteTrump plans visit to Capitol Hill Ayotte alarmed by sped-up Gitmo reviews The Trail 2016: And then there was one MORE (R-N.H.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamNever Trump voices face tough decision Trump: GOP critics can come back after my 'two terms' Graham: GOP has 'lost its way' on Trump MORE (R-S.C.), James InhofeJames InhofeThree more Republican senators to meet with Supreme Court nominee Senate unveils B waterways bill with aid for Flint 0 million Flint aid package included in water bill MORE (R-Okla.) and Roger WickerRoger WickerOvernight Healthcare: Senate making headway on Zika funding DNC head: Republicans ‘dropping like flies’ from convention Campaign chief to vulnerables: Stay away from GOP convention MORE (R-Miss.) joined Sessions in speaking out against the $6 billion cut on the Senate floor.

All Republican senators voted with Sessions. They were joined by Democratic Sen. Kay HaganKay Hagan10 Senate seats most likely to flip in 2016 Senate Republicans are feeling the 'Trump effect' Washington's lobby firms riding high MORE (D-N.C.), who is up for a tough reelection in 2014.

The Senate is expected to pass the bill Wednesday afternoon, but it could be sooner if Republicans agree to yield back debate time.  

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