Republicans are sharpening their knives as the Senate prepares to adjourn for a long weekend as Democrats deploy a special process to pass the party’s sweeping health care, tax and climate plan without the participation of all the corridor
Republican leaders took umbrage at the Democratic effort at a news conference Friday, a day before the Senate is set to begin considering the plan, while targeting Sens. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D -Ariz. ), two centrist resistance keys, to support the effort.
“So how will the vote-a-rama be?” Sen. Lindsey Graham (RS.C) told reporters Friday, referring to the marathon vote that senators must undergo in the coming days as part of the process Democrats are using to pass the bill “It would be like hell.”
“They deserve this. As much as I admire Joe Manchin and Sinema for standing up to the radical left at times, they are promoting legislation that will make the average person’s life more difficult,” Graham said.
Graham, along with Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), also threatened not to vote on a critical funding measure before a September deadline, when government funding is set to expire, for the effort.
Democrats are using a complicated procedure known as budget reconciliation to try to pass the party’s Inflation Reduction Act, a massive package that would advance key pieces of President Biden’s legislative agenda.
The procedure, which Republicans used to pass former President Trump’s signature tax law in 2017, will allow Democrats to pass a bill in the Senate 50-50 with a simple majority, short of the usual 60-vote threshold.
But to pass the bill through the maneuver, Democrats must jump through a number of hoops before bringing the bill up for a vote. This includes what’s known as a vote-a-rama, an often long and messy voting marathon in which senators can offer a series of amendments for a chance to influence legislation before a final vote on the general bill.
Republicans have been strategizing in recent days on how to inflict as much pain as possible on Democrats during the upcoming voting session, promising to line up tough votes for the party that could be used as ammunition for the upcoming campaign season .
During the recent press conference, Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.), a member of the Republican leadership, said that the GOP will focus specifically on areas such as “energy, inflation, borders and crime.”
Many Republicans have kept their cards close to their vests on what amendments they plan to introduce during the marathon vote.
Pressed by The Hill Thursday about which ones he will offer, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) declined to divulge, saying he wants “it to be a surprise.”
“All my colleagues will have plenty of time to read my amendments,” Kennedy said. “But I don’t believe in leading with the chin.”
Republicans have expressed hope to attach some of their amendments to the overall bill, despite their overwhelming opposition to the package, in case it could make the legislation more difficult to pass in the House.
Still, there is concern among GOP members about the possibility of Democrats introducing a “broad” amendment that could wipe out all amendments passed during the session.
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Sen. John Thune (SD), the Senate’s second-ranking Republican, acknowledged the problem during Friday’s news conference, questioning whether Manchin and Sinema would vote for the amendment.
“Because they both said they weren’t going to vote after they felt that, in the American Rescue Plan, they voted for a comprehensive amendment and they felt they were misled by their leadership at the time that they would never vote for any of the “them,” Thune said.
The Hill has reached out to Manchin and Sinema’s offices for comment.