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Senate Leaders Lock on Bipartisan Momentum

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Sen. Jerry Moran says he believes that most of his Senate colleagues want to have debate and offer amendments on several appropriations bills.

Senate Democratic leaders are hoping to build on today’s expected passage of a bipartisan jobs bill by moving to take up a second package of three spending bills.

“Folks on both sides felt the last appropriations bills went well,” a Senate Democratic leadership aide said Wednesday, adding that the bipartisan legislation currently on the floor has helped build goodwill.

Senate Democrats plan to set up a procedural vote today on taking up the second minibus, which will include the State and foreign operations appropriations bill; the financial services and general government appropriations bill; and the Energy and water development appropriations bill.

“My impression is that most of my colleagues are interested in proceeding to have a debate and offer amendments ... so I would expect that cloture would be granted,” said Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government.

Moran said he expects a host of amendments to be offered on his bill because it funds the IRS. Republicans in the past have targeted the agency as a way of blocking enforcement of the health care law, which requires citizens to get health insurance or face IRS penalties.

The minibus bill also covers agencies that are implementing the financial industry reform law, which Republicans have criticized heavily.

Democrats hope to hold votes on as many amendments as possible, within reason, similar to the process for clearing the first minibus earlier this month. They also hope Republicans will approach the bill in the same spirit.

Republicans believe the current bipartisan stretch is long overdue and is something they have been increasingly calling for in recent weeks.

“Democrats may be finally getting the message that bills designed to fail won’t create jobs,” a Senate Republican leadership aide said.

Republicans have been critical of Democrats who, after failing to win GOP support for President Barack Obama’s $447 billion jobs package, have sought to bring up pieces of the measure paired with taxes on millionaires to offset their costs.

Republicans oppose the offsets because they believe the taxes would hurt small businesses and job creation. The GOP contends it’s an effort geared more toward making Republicans look like obstructionists rather than legislating.

The Senate Democratic aide disagreed. “The only thing that makes Republicans look like obstructionists is their obstructionism,” the aide said.

That aide cited two Democratic efforts in recent weeks to pass a proposal to provide $35 billion to hire teachers and first responders and $60 billion for infrastructure projects, both pieces of Obama’s jobs bill that were offset with new taxes on millionaires and opposed by Republicans.

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