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Budget Vote-a-Rama in Full Swing

March 23, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Don’t bother watching the Senate session on C-SPAN 2 today. Senators have begun wading through a seemingly endless stream of amendments in what is referred to as, “vote-a-rama.” All day, the Senate will be casting roll call votes on amendments to the fiscal year 2008 Budget Resolution, one after another, without any debate. So, to avoid all the milling about and name calling on the Senate floor today, you may as well keep track of the results as they roll in and are posted online.

The budget resolution will serve as a blueprint for the actual budgeting process. It sets the overall priorities and establishes spending caps for all the parts of the government. Therefore, the amendments that are being voted on will serve as suggestions for provisions to be included in the actual budget. The amendments use the budget resolution as a testing ground. Today’s votes should give us a pretty accurate picture of what will be included in the final budget.

THOMAS has the list of amendments that will be offered to the bill. You can see who has filed amendments, but for most of them, their purpose remains unknown because no text is posted yet. Once they are voted on, you can read the full text on the roll call page.

According to CQ:

>It’s expected Republicans will offer amendments dealing with the estate tax and protecting middle-income families from being hit by the AMT, among other proposals. Democrats likely will offer amendments to boost funding for favored programs.

The details of some of the amendments are known. For example, Gordon Smith (R-OR) will be offering an amendment that would raise the tobacco tax by up to 61 cents, totaling $1.00. The revenue earned from the increased taxes would then be used to fund the State Children’s Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP). More about Gordon’s plan, here.

The Kaiser Network put up this summary of amendments rejected so far:

>The Senate on Thursday voted 74-23 to reject an amendment to the budget resolution sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) that would have reduced reimbursements to Medicare providers by $34 billion over five years, about half the amount proposed in February by President Bush (Taylor, AP/Houston Chronicle, 3/22). In addition, the Senate voted 59-38 to reject an amendment that would have established a deficit-neutral reserve fund for SCHIP and limited coverage under the program to children (Hess, CongressDaily, 3/22). The Senate also voted 52-44 to reject an amendment sponsored by Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) that would have increased prescription drug benefit premiums for individuals with annual incomes of more than $80,000 and couples with annual incomes of more than $160,000 (Hess/Hagstrom, CongressDaily, 3/23).

OMB Watch has also posted an Amendment Recap and Preview, which has some more details of amendments.

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