July 24, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Nowhere to Hide in Senate Vote-a-Rama

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
Cornyn said the GOP had a “collective list of priority amendments.”

During debate on a different piece of legislation last year, Republicans forced a vote on Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget request, and they were able to trumpet the fact that the White House plan got no votes.

The White House has said it expects to unveil its budget the week of April 8, two months late, and has blamed the delay on the prolonged debt limit and the fiscal cliff battles. Reid has denied any concerns about the Obama budget and suggested he wants to finish the budget this week so Democrats can pivot quickly after the break to new initiatives such as gun restrictions, an immigration policy overhaul and a water resources bill.

Democrats are sure to force a vote on the House Republican budget, unless the Senate GOP offers a similar proposal. “I don’t think there’s any hesitation to vote on the House budget,” Cornyn said.

Democrats also are planning amendments to target individual pieces of House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s plan, including changes to the way Medicare is administered.

Republicans were lining up targeted amendments that would address provisions of the health care overhaul (PL 111-148, PL 111-152), restrict the Environmental Protection Agency and insist on a revenue-neutral tax overhaul.

“The number of amendments that we hear may be a few less than the norm,” said Foreign Relations ranking member Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., might try to restrict fly-overs by EPA aircraft above private property, while Boxer envisions a counterproposal to allow them when needed “to protect the health and safety of the people,” for example, when surveying a toxic spill.

Other potential Republican amendments include a plan from Utah Sen. Orrin G. Hatch to repeal the 2.3 percent medical device tax in the health care overhaul, a proposal from Ohio Sen. Rob Portman to require creation of a reserve fund to support a revenue-neutral tax overhaul and a number of curbs on environmental, health care and financial regulations.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who has traditionally taken full advantage of the vote-a- rama, told CQ Roll Call on Wednesday that he wasn’t prepared to unveil his plans quite yet. That may be in part because one tool available during the vote-a-rama is the element of surprise: A senator may offer an amendment without giving colleagues notice.

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