Marathon Vote a Challenge for Senators Thinking About 2016

NYT FDAshley Parker March 27, 2015

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Good Friday morning from Washington. Jeb Bush’s aides are mulling a new data strategy, while Hillary Rodham Clinton is building up her communications team. Ending a week that included the first presidential announcement, we reminisce about Ted Cruz’s old debate days. Meanwhile, members of Congress will most likely start the weekend groggy from a marathon “vote-orama.”

Senate Republicans squeezed through their budget early Friday morning and put some pressure on a few members who might prefer to be on the trail rather than casting dicey votes.

Thursday’s “vote-orama” stretched well into the wee hours and provided lawmakers with the chance to highlight their pet issues and peeves — as well as jam the other party with (nonbinding) votes that could still come back to haunt them.

It also proved to be a rough day for some likely 2016 Republican hopefuls, who saw their amendments resoundingly defeated.

Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, found himself bruised after only four senators (himself included) voted for his amendment to increase military spending by roughly $190 billion over the next two years. Senators Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader; Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming, the Budget Committee chairman; and David Vitter of Louisiana also supported the amendment.

Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, also joined with Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, to offer another military spending amendment, which would have increased it to $697 billion next year. His amendment was defeated, 32 to 68.

As lawmakers calculated the smartest way to vote, Senator Harry Reid just wanted to go home. Suggesting to his colleagues that their votes would have little impact on their electoral fortunes, he offered to buy dinner if they could wrap things up at a reasonable hour.

“The agreement for dinner was not a Las Vegas bet,” he said. “It’s something I’ll do.”

Alas, they finished too late anyway.