Senate COVID Vote-a-Rama Part II: $15 Minimum Wage Rejected, Unemployment Benefits Revised
How do you feel about the Senate’s vote-a-rama?
What’s the story?
- The Senate on Friday morning began its second “vote-a-rama” of the year as it continues the consideration of Democrats’ $1.9 trillion coronavirus (COVID-19) relief package. The voting is expected to continue for many hours, as some Republican senators are hoping to keep the process going well into the weekend by proposing hundreds of amendments and any amendment proposed in a vote-a-rama can receive a vote if the sponsor requests it.
- Unlike the first vote-a-rama, in which amendments approved during the 15 hours of deliberation were non-binding and wiped out by a substitute amendment to the budget resolution at the end of the process, amendment votes which are approved during this vote-a-rama will be included in the bill as heads to final passage in the Senate.
- Amendments that are considered germane to the relief bill require a simple majority to be adopted, while those which require procedural rules to be waived will require 60 votes for adoption. Once the amendment votes conclude, the Senate will vote on final passage with a simple majority required, and the revised bill will go back to the House for another vote.
- We’ll track the major amendment votes from the vote-a-rama below in order of most recent.
Corrections, State and Local Aid, Plus Workers Compensation - Schumer #1398 to #891: Offered by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), this amendment would make corrections to the underlying legislation, including requiring workers’ compensation for federal workers who contract COVID-19 regardless of how they got sick, and adding an additional $10 billion in funding for state and local governments, while preserving amendments adopted during the vote-a-rama. Agreed to by voice vote.
Reimbursing Federal Contractors - Warner #1391: Offered by Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), this amendment would reimburse classified federal contractors through the end of fiscal year 2021. Agreed to 93-6.
Services for Homeless Youth - Murkowski #1233: Offered by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), this amendment would use $800 million of the bill’s funding for elementary and secondary schools to identify and provide homeless children and youth with services in light of COVID-19. Agreed to by voice vote.
Barring Unauthorized Immigrants From Getting Stimulus Checks - Cruz #968: Offered by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), this amendment would prohibit unauthorized immigrants from receiving stimulus checks. Not agreed to 49-50.
School Choice - Cruz #969: Offered by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), this amendment would allow students and their families to attend the school of their choice with funding following the student. Not agreed to 49-50.
Prohibiting Taxpayer Funding of Abortion - Lankford #1031: Offered by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), this amendment would add Hyde Amendment language to the bill that prohibits taxpayer funding of abortion. Not agreed to 52-47 (60 votes required).
- Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Joe Manchin (D-WV) joined Republicans in voting in favor of this amendment.
Keystone XL Pipeline - Tester #1197: Offered by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), this amendment would allow the construction of the currently halted Keystone XL pipeline. Not agreed to 51-48 (60 votes required).
- Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Jon Tester (D-MT) joined Republicans in voting in favor of this amendment.
State and Local Funding Allocations - Graham #1369: Offered by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), this amendment would change how the $350 billion in funding for state and local governments is allocated by returning it to the bipartisan CARES Act formula. Not agreed to 48-51.
- Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) joined Democrats in voting against this amendment.
Report on Planning to Reopen Schools for In-Person Instruction - Hassan #1344: Offered by Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), this amendment would require educational agencies to produce a report within 30 days of receiving funding about how they will safely reopen for in-person instruction. The report would be made publicly available and open to public comment. Agreed to 51-48.
- Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) joined Democrats by voting in favor.
Conditioning School Funding on Reopening - Rubio #1026: Offered by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), this amendment would distribute funding to schools based on the number of days they’re open for in-person learning to incentivize reopening as fully as possible and require schools to open at least half of the time for half of the students. Not adopted 48-51.
- Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) joined Democrats in opposing this amendment.
Revising Enhanced Unemployment Benefits - Wyden #1372: Offered by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), this amendment would reduce the federal enhancement of unemployment benefits from $400 per week to $300 per week; extend the enhancement for an extra week from August 29th to September 6th; and make the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits tax-exempt for households with incomes under $150,000. Adopted 50-49.
- This amendment supersedes the Portman amendment adopted earlier in the vote-a-rama.
Nursing Home COVID Death Data Transparency - Scott #1030: Offered by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), this amendment would condition funding for state strike teams for resident and employee safety in nursing homes unless a state reports data about nursing home deaths due to COVID-19. Not adopted 49-50.
$650 Billion Substitute - Collins #1242: Offered by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), this amendment would reduce the total amount of spending in the package from $1.9 trillion to $650 billion, which would feature more closely targeted relief payments to individuals and families along with funding for reopening schools. Not agreed to 48-51 (60 votes required).
- Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) joined all Democrats in opposing this amendment.
Reducing Unemployment Enhancement - Portman #1092: Offered by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), this amendment would reduce the $400 per week enhancement of unemployment benefits that runs through August 29th to $300 per week through July 18th. Agreed to 50-49.
- Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) joined Republicans in voting for this amendment, although he is also expected to vote for a similar amendment offered by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) or Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) later in the process that will supersede this amendment.
- Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK), who was in attendance for the initial vote on the minimum wage amendment Friday morning, had to leave D.C. to return to Alaska in time for his father-in-law's funeral.
Raising the Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour - Sanders #972: Offered by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), this amendment would gradually raise the federal minimum wage each year to $15 per hour in 2025, in addition to merging the tipped minimum wage and youth subminimum wage with the standard minimum wage. Not adopted 42-58 (60 votes required).
- All Republicans were joined by Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Coons (D-DE), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Angus King (I-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Jon Tester (D-MT) in voting no.
- This vote remained open for 11 hours and 50 minutes ― which makes it the longest vote in Senate history ― while Democrats struggled to reach an internal compromise on unemployment benefits. Votes during a vote-a-rama are supposed to close after 10 minutes.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Capitol: iStock.com / erick4x4)
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