Democratic amendments largely mirror GOP riders, with most seeking to swap money between accounts within bills or give specific directions to an agency. Only a handful seek to touch on broader policy debates, such as an amendment from Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., giving a sense of the Senate statement regarding the potential cost to the federal government from climate change, a defeated Ted Cruz, R-Texas, amendment on health care funding, and an amendment from Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Mark Udall, D-Colo., seeking to reconfigure the sequester.
In other cases, senators in both parties sometimes offered several similar versions of amendments, such as three measures offered by Marco Rubio, R-Fla., addressing aid to Egypt, a topic also addressed in amendments from Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt.
The duplication of amendments may make it easier to whittle down the list in the days ahead, but that may not address the root issue that lawmakers want to put their own stamp on a measure that actually directs federal spending. The five spending bills in the package represent agreements worked out between House and Senate appropriators and their top staffers last year. The House had passed its version of four of five of these measures, allowing members a chance to offer amendments, and now many senators are seeking the same opportunity.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.