Meanwhile, Senate Democrats have moved to protect their own bill against procedural maneuvers Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) might use to try to ensure he gets a vote on his plan to cut off aid to Egypt until Americans being held there are released.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday used his own procedural maneuvers to block amendments to his chamber’s transportation bill.
Reid set up a cloture vote for Friday on his amendment to merge the Environment and Public Works Committee’s bill with portions of the bill that fell under the purview of the Finance, Commerce and Banking committees.
Paul has already delayed the confirmation of a judge this week when he forced the Senate to use the full 30 hours after cloture was invoked on the nomination of Adalberto Jose Jordan to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The move also kept the Senate from reverting to the transportation bill it had been considering.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) opposes Paul’s amendment, in part because he is scheduled to travel to Cairo during the recess.
“Sen. McCain continues to work to find a constructive solution to the current impasse in the Senate,” a McCain aide said. “Sen. McCain does not believe it would be helpful to hold a vote to cut off aid at this sensitive time when Americans are not permitted to leave Egypt. Sen. McCain is traveling to Cairo this weekend to discuss the issue with the Egyptian government and hopes that progress can be achieved.”
About 19 Americans are among 43 individuals who are being detained after being accused of illegally receiving foreign money in a case against local and overseas-based nongovernmental organizations. Paul wants to use the approximately $1.3 billion a year the United States provides to Egypt as incentive for the Egyptian authorities to release the Americans.
Reid on Wednesday castigated Senators, such as Paul, for seeking to file non- germane amendments.
“We have 100 amendments that have been filed already on this bill,” Reid said on the floor. “Very few of them are related to the bill.”
If the Senate cuts off debate on the amendment, Senate leaders are expected to work over the recess to put together a list of amendments that would get votes when the chamber returns.
But it is an open question whether there is enough GOP support to cut off debate, because Republicans have chafed when Reid limits their ability to offer amendments.
If debate is not cut off, Reid has set up a cloture vote on Jesse M. Furman to be a district judge in the Southern District of New York.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.