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McConnell seeks to inflict political pain on budget votes

The Hill logo The Hill 2/3/2021 Alexander Bolton
a group of people standing next to a man in a suit and tie: McConnell seeks to inflict political pain on budget votes © Greg Nash McConnell seeks to inflict political pain on budget votes

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday announced that Republicans will force Democrats to take tough votes on issues ranging from stimulus checks for illegal immigrants to higher taxes on small businesses when the Senate moves a budget resolution this week.

"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," McConnell said on the Senate floor.

"This is just a small taste," he added.

Senate Republicans will have an opportunity to offer an unlimited number of nonbinding amendments to the resolution Democrats plan to vote on later this week - as long as the amendments are relevant to the budget.

Leaders in both parties have often skipped the arduous process of passing budget resolutions in recent years because they want to avoid exposing their members to tough votes during these so-called vote-a-rama sessions.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), however, need to pass a budget resolution this year to trigger budget reconciliation protection for President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, which would allow it to pass the Senate with a simple majority vote.

McConnell said Wednesday that he will use this week's budget debate to attack Democratic priorities in Biden's relief plan.

"The American people will see Republicans are focused on smart and responsible policies to reopen the country," he said. "And they'll see Democrats who seem desperate to make their first act in power the same kind of massive, partisan, poorly-targeted borrowing spree that permanently wounded the last Democratic presidency right out of the gate."

The Senate is currently in the midst of 50 hours of floor debate on the budget resolution. Once that's done, the vote-a-rama is expected to begin Thursday.

In 2008, the Senate voted on 44 amendments during a budget vote-a-rama.

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