GOP forces 15-hour ‘vote-a-rama’ in Senate on COVID relief that ends with Harris tiebreaker

Senate Republicans managed to force Democrats into several difficult votes during a lengthy 15-hour “vote-a-rama” session that began around 2 p.m. on Thursday and finally came to a close at about 6 a.m. Friday.

When it was over, the evenly-divided chamber passed a COVID-19 budget resolution along party lines that ultimately required Vice President Kamala Harris to cast a tie-breaking vote for a 51-50 final tally.


And while the measure isn’t final, it will nevertheless provide the chamber a path toward final legislation which will likely pass under budget reconciliation rules that allow Democrats to bypass an expected Republican filibuster, providing that the caucus votes in unison, Fox News reported.

In forcing the marathon session, Republicans utilized Senate rules which permitted them to propose a raft of budget resolution amendments, each of which required all members to take an official position on several issues that could later put some senators in difficult positions, politically.

“I am so thankful that our caucus stayed together in unity. We had no choice given the problems facing America and the desire to move forward. And we have moved forward,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. “Many bipartisan amendments were adopted, so this was a bipartisan activity.”

“We cannot underscore enough how much help America needs during this awful crisis and we cannot miss the point that we still have a long way to go. This was a giant first step… to bring America back, to overcome this horrible crisis and then move America forward,” the New York Democrat added.

In all, senators engaged in 41 votes between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. 

Republicans forced Democrats to vote on issues important to their base including the Trump-era ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy that President Joe Biden has since ended, opposition to Biden’s cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline which cost thousands of American jobs, opposing the banning of new fracking permits on federal lands, opposing increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, and other measures.

Schumer proposed one final amendment that unraveled a trio of Republican proposals that had bipartisan majorities — the pipeline fracking and opposition to taxpayer-funded pandemic stimulus checks for illegal aliens. Harris also cast the tie-breaker for the proposal.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had said Republicans were going to use chamber procedures to extend the process of COVID-19 relief in order to make it intentionally difficult for the slim Democrat majority.

“We’re going to put senators on the record,” McConnell said ahead of the marathon vote session on Thursday. “Expect votes to stop Washington from actively killing jobs during a recovery — like terminating the Keystone pipeline; that job-killing, one-size-fits-all minimum wage hike; and whether to bar tax hikes on small businesses for the duration of this emergency.”

The Kentucky Republican had also said his GOP caucus would offer measures opposing COVID relief money for illegal aliens, withholding federal taxpayer funds for local school districts that continue to keep kids out of in-person learning, and others.

Fox News added: “In other amendments during the vote-a-rama, the Senate voted 97-3 to support keeping the U.S. Embassy in Israel in Jerusalem; 50-50 on a failed amendment to support the border wall; 50-50 on a failed amendment supporting the free exercise of religion; 100-0 to oppose the defunding of police; 50-50 on a failed amendment to oppose packing the Supreme Court; 50-50 on a failed amendment opposing stimulus checks for people in prison; 50-50 on a failed amendment opposing the Biden administration’s move to restrict oil and gas leasing on federal lands; 50-50 on a failed amendment opposing a federal carbon tax; 53-47 in favor of an amendment supporting the expansion of health savings accounts; and more.”

Jon Dougherty

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