Senate Democrats have pushed for a vote on Ryan’s spending blueprint so that they can talk about how much they dislike it.
By the time the Senate’s budget vote-a-rama ends Friday night or Saturday, senators’ heads will be spinning from the dozens of votes they’ve taken in rapid succession.
The debate will give senators plenty of opportunities to play legislative tricks, but most amendments will be used as test votes on other policy proposals that could come up later in the year. If senators get 60 votes in favor of their proposals, the theory goes, they could actually break a filibuster of real legislation. That’s the clear intent behind more than a few amendments. Other amendments are designed to be used as bludgeons for future campaign ads. Here are 10 of the more intriguing proposals that have already surfaced, no particular order:
1.“No Budget, No Pay” for the White House
Sen. John Cornyn is putting a new spin on this GOP favorite, which generally targets members of Congress’ salaries if they fail to pass a budget. The Texas Republican’s version would withhold pay from officials at the Office of Management and Budget if the president does not present a budget by the February due date. (President Barack Obama is already almost two months late with his budget, but he is expected to release one in April. This is no small matter to Republicans, who generally like to bring it up as an amendment to show that it doesn’t have support in Congress.)
No budget debate would be complete without a few hot-button, social issue amendments. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., has unveiled one to support the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, which establishes a prohibition on abortions for sex-selection. Other red-meat issues all but certain to face votes include gun control and immigration matters.
3. The Paul Ryan budget
Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and other Senate Democrats have pushed for a vote on House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s spending blueprint, which the House approved Thursday. Why are Democrats pressing to hold this vote, one might ask: So they can talk about how terrible they think the Wisconsin Republican’s budget is before voting it down.
The Kentucky Republican’s budget is known for being among the most austere of all the GOP budget offerings. FreedomWorks praised his proposal recently for balancing within five years, allowing Social Security to be transferred to private accounts and moving to a flat tax. But senators have rarely agreed. In 2011, only seven lawmakers voted for it. (Paul hasn’t yet tipped his hand on whether he will actually offer his budget again this year.)
5. Ending automatic pay raises for members of Congress
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.