Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is getting ready to craftily force Democrats to vote on a whole slew of touchy subjects that involve funding allocated in Biden’s coronavirus stimulus plan. This is part and parcel of the rules surrounding the budget reconciliation process that Democrats are using to push through the plan while skirting a filibuster.
The debate over the budget resolution began on Wednesday and will continue in the Senate on Thursday. As soon as that ends, something called a vote-a-rama will begin. During that period, any senator can file an amendment to the resolution. It is more than possible that when that happens there will be dozens of votes on a number of provisions. The proceedings will most likely carry on late into the night and into the wee hours of Friday morning.
Republicans have been up in arms over the Democrats using reconciliation to ram through Biden’s stimulus plan. This is their way of throwing a wrench in things and punishing Democrats for trying to push the plan through without compromise. The Democrats will be forced to vote on issues such as paying illegal immigrants stimulus funds and funding schools that refuse to reopen — using the pandemic as justification for keeping their doors closed.
“The new President talks a lot about unity, but his White House staff and congressional leadership are working from the opposite playbook,” McConnell said in regards to the budget reconciliation process. “We’ll be discussing the facts… Senate Republicans will be ready and waiting with a host of amendments to improve the rushed procedural step that’s being jammed through.”
McConnell went on to say: “We’ll be getting senators on the record about whether taxpayers should fund checks for illegal immigrants… whether Democrats should raise taxes on small businesses in the midst of this historic crisis… and whether generous federal funding should pour into school districts where the unions refuse to let schools open. And this is just a small taste.”
In other words, the Republicans will inundate the Democrats with uncomfortable topics that they will have to confront and take a stance on if they want the stimulus bill to come into being.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) was one of the first to introduce an amendment. It opposes giving any funding to schools that refuse to put kids back in their classrooms.
“In spite of overwhelming evidence that schools can reopen safely, partisan advocates are using children’s education as a cudgel to push their radical agendas,” Hawley said in a statement. “The effect on children and working-class families has been absolutely devastating. The federal government should put an end to this two-tiered education system for the haves and the have-nots by incentivizing schools to safely reopen.”
That was followed by Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) who has seven amendments he is introducing for the reconciliation process. He’s also co-sponsoring three others. And this is just the beginning.
Daines’ amendments include one that reverses Biden’s decision to nix the Keystone XL pipeline. Another halts tax increases while the pandemic is in play and another blocks the use of taxpayer funds to implement the goals of the Paris Climate Accord. The list goes on.
Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) plans to introduce amendments that will fund our nuclear weapons program, stop the funding of international abortions, halt illegal immigrants from being given government-funded healthcare, and block the packing of the Supreme Court.
“Republicans are happy to work with Democrats to bring COVID-19 relief to the American people, but we cannot and will not support a bill that redirects funds to long-standing Democratic priorities,” Cotton bluntly stated. “My amendments are designed to ensure the American people – not the Senate Democrats’ far-left policies – are protected.”
There is little doubt that the Byrd rule will be invoked. That rule states that anything passed during reconciliation has to have something to do with the federal budget. And not every amendment will get a full floor vote. However, with the number of amendments the Republicans are introducing, the process is guaranteed to be long, exhausting, and painful for Democrats.
Probably the hottest point of contention is funding schools that refuse to reopen so children can get back to learning. McConnell has accused Democrats of “moving the goalposts” on helping schools to reopen.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), however, demands more be done for schools.
“The $1.9 trillion budget resolution is designed to meet the needs of a country that has been devastated by disease and recession for nearly a year,” Schumer said. “Secretary Yellen told the Democratic caucus yesterday that it is her belief that if Congress fails to dedicate the necessary resources to meet the needs of the American people and survive this crisis, we will see long-term scarring in our economy, and our country would be mired in the COVID crisis for years.”
In the end, McConnell intends to make this very painful for the Democrats:
“The American people will see Republicans are focused on smart and responsible policies to reopen the country,” he said. McConnell then said that Democrats will be viewed as “desperate” to slam through a “poorly-targeted borrowing spree.”
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