Senate Democrats kill off amendments as vote-a-rama goes all night


Senate Democrats are killing off amendments to their climate, tax and health bill as part of a marathon, around-the-clock series of votes known as a vote-a-rama that started after 11 p.m. Saturday night and will stretch toward midday Sunday.

The Senate has not taken a break overnight, with senators from both parties mingling on the floor as they consider one amendment after another.

Most of the GOP amendments are intended to put Democrats on the spot on tough issues. If any were approved, it could also make the sweeping package more difficult to pass in the House at the end of the week.

The process was initially expected to last as long as 12 to 14 hours, with some optimistic observers wondering if it could wrap up more earlier if lawmakers exhausted one another with the overnight work.

Senators appeared relatively chipper after dawn broke Sunday morning, despite the grueling work. The vast majority of the did not appear to be getting fatigued.

At 6:30 a.m., the Senate was dispensing with an amendment from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on crime. Several more hours of votes were expected.

The vote-a-rama is a feature of the Senate budget process, which Democrats are using to pass a major climate, tax and health bill with 51 votes, bypassing a Republican filibuster.

The budget reconciliation process allows the party in control of the Senate to pass major legislation with a simple-majority vote but the trade-off is Democrats must allow Republicans vote on an unlimited number of back-to-back amendments.

Each side has only one minute to make an argument for or against an amendment before a vote is called.

Votes on amendments that violate the Byrd Rule, which requires that legislation passed through the budget reconciliation process have a non-tangential impact on spending, revenues or the debt limit, are subject to procedural objections, which require 60 votes to be waived.

Not all the votes have been on GOP amendments.

The first amendment of the vote-a-rama is one sponsored by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), which would require Medicare not to pay more than what the Department of Veterans Affairs does for prescription drugs.

It was defeated 1-99.

The last vote-a-rama the Senate held in August of 2021 to pass the budget resolution lasted 14 hours and included consideration of more than 40 amendments.

Democratic senators say they expect this weekend’s vote-a-rama to last until 11 am or noon Sunday, judging by past experiences.

Mychael Schnell contributed.

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