Finance

Senate Dems prep for vote-a-rama next week

Democrats are preparing for the budget “vote-a-rama” next week in which senators can offer an unlimited amount of amendments to the GOP budget blueprint. 

The back-to-back votes on amendments are likely to go all night before a vote on final passage takes place. Democrats are intent on using the opportunity to send a clear message about the Republican plan, which is nonbinding and isn’t signed by the president. 

“The strategy on the floor would reflect the strategy in the committee,” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said Friday, which is to “highlight things that are simply wrong with [the GOP] budget.”

{mosads}During a Center for American Progress conference call with Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), ranking member on the House Budget Committee, Merkley said Democrats are planning to target a new amendment on defense spending that Republicans added to their budget Thursday. 

The amendment, offered by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), would boost the Pentagon’s war funding account to $96 billion, in an effort to match what House Republicans are seeking in their spending blueprint.

Republicans are leaning on the account, known as the overseas contingency operations (OCO) fund, to make up for the defense sequester that’s set to return in October. 

Merkley said Democrats oppose the amendment because it does nothing to also raise non-defense spending to domestic programs. 

“Certainly at a minimum, it should be an on-budget proposal,” Merkley said about the OCO amendment.

In addition to targeting the OCO provision, Merkley said Democrats will offer amendments that he said addresses how the GOP budget attacks people through their proposals for Medicare, food stamps and Medicaid. 

Democrats, he added, will also fight for better healthcare, infrastructure and education. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday to expect votes on at least one amendment Monday evening.   

Tags Jeff Merkley Kelly Ayotte Lindsey Graham Mitch McConnell
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