Republicans are sharpening their knives as the Senate prepares for a long weekend, while Democrats implement a special process to pass the party’s sweeping health, tax and climate plan without support from across the aisle.
Republican leaders were rattled by the Democratic effort at a news conference Friday, a day before the Senate is poised to begin consideration of the plan, while taking aim at Sens. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz. ), two central centered holdouts to support the effort.
“So, what will vote-a-rama be like?” Sen. Lindsey Graham (RS.C) told reporters Friday, citing the marathon votes senators will face in the next few days as part of the process Democrats are using to pass the bill. “That would be hell.”
“They deserve this. As much as I admire Joe Manchin and Sinema for standing up to the radical left at times, they are strengthening 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 for a critical funding measure ahead of a September deadline, when government funding is set to expire, because of the effort.
Democrats are using a complicated procedure known as a budget vote to try to pass the party’s Inflation Reduction Act, a massive package that would advance key parts of President Biden’s legislative agenda.
The procedure Republicans used to pass former President Trump’s signature tax bill in 2017 would allow Democrats to pass a bill in the 50-50 Senate with a simple majority, bypassing the usual 60-vote threshold.
But to pass the bill using the maneuver, Democrats have to jump through a number of hoops before bringing the bill to the floor for a vote. It includes what is known as 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 overall 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 can be used as ammunition for the upcoming campaign season.
During the latest press conference, Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.), a member of the Republican leadership, said the GOP will focus specifically on areas such as “energy, inflation, the border and crime.”
Many Republicans have kept their cards close to the vest about what changes they plan to bring during the voting marathon.
Pressed by The Hill Thursday about which ones he will offer, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) declined to divulge, saying he wanted “it has to be a surprise.”
“My colleagues will all 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 chances that Democrats will introduce a “wraparound amendment” that could allow for the deletion of all amendments passed during the session.
Sen. John Thune (SD), the No. 2 Senate Republican, acknowledged the issue during the news conference Friday and questioned whether Manchin and Sinema would vote for such an amendment.
“Because they both said they won’t vote after they felt like it on the US bailout, they voted for a wrap-around amendment and felt misled by their leadership at the time that they would never vote for a of them again,” said Thune.
The Hill has reached out to Manchin’s and Sinema’s offices for comment.