Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThis obscure Senate rule could let VP Mike Pence fully repeal ObamaCare once and for all Sharron Angle to challenge GOP rep in Nevada Fox's Watters asks Trump whom he would fire: Baldwin, Schumer or Zucker MORE (D-Nev.) set up a procedural vote to end debate on Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders: Block Trump's SEC pick Eye on 2018: Five special elections worth watching Overnight Finance: White House backs off stock market boasts as Dow, Nasdaq drop | Trump budget shifts costs to rural voters who elected him | Fight over CEO pay rule heats up MORE’ (I-Vt.) omnibus veterans bill for when the Senate returns from recess in more than a week.
Sanders’ bill is a nearly $20 billion measure that tackles an array of veterans’ issues, such as improving veterans healthcare programs, giving veterans in-state tuition at any public university and providing advanced appropriations for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
S. 1982 is paid for by using funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that won’t be used. Republicans have expressed skepticism about using the Afghanistan and Iraq funds — which are essentially “off budget” and not subject to discretionary spending caps — and are working to propose a GOP alternative as an amendment.
But that vote won’t occur until after the Senate deals with pending judicial nominations.
Reid also filed cloture on four judicial nominations to courts in Arkansas, Connecticut and California. He had to file cloture on those nominees because Republicans refused to confirm them en bloc.
Republicans have complained that Reid used the “nuclear option” to unilaterally change the Senate filibuster rules. Democrats can now end debate on most executive and judicial nominees with a simple majority vote instead of the 60 needed before.
“Our friends on the other side of the aisle invoked the nuclear option. … Now the Majority Leader would like to short circuit the process put into place by the nuclear option,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said when objecting to Reid’s unanimous consent request. “My preference is that he reverse partisan rule change.”
Republicans will likely drag out debate time on those nominees as well, meaning the Senate will spend most of its first week back from a recess — starting Feb. 24 —working through the nominations before getting to Sanders’ bill.
A list of those nominees follows:
- Jeffrey Meyer to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Connecticut.
- James Maxwell Moody, Jr., to be U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Arkansas.
- James Donato to be U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of California.
- Beth Labson Freeman to be U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of California.