The Senate Budget Resolution Was Good. These Republican Messaging Amendments Were Not.

After an 11:52 am 50–49 party line vote on a motion to proceed Tuesday morning to consideration of a budget resolution that could lead to a much-needed expansion of the social safety net, the Senate kicked off what is called a “vote-a-rama,” a marathon of amendment voting in which senators try to put each other on record on contentious issues, until almost 4 am the next morning. These amendments are all non-binding and mainly just serve for messaging purposes.

But it still matters what messages politicians choose to advance. So let’s take a look at them.

Several votes were unanimous, including the amendments to…

  • To prohibit enactment of “the Green New Deal,” which is not a thing that exists in a form that could be enacted because it is a concept (filed by Sen. John Barrasso of WY) — — Tom Carper’s counter-messaging amendment on the importance of urgently addressing climate change passed 51–48, with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) joining Democrats.

Many amendments failed on a party line vote (with 49 Republicans in favor, and 50 Democrats opposed):

  • Cancelling the Biden Administration’s ban on oil and gas leasing on Federal land (filed by Sen. Cynthia Lummis of WY)

Unfortunately, a number of Republican messaging amendments passed:

Anti-environment messaging amendments

  • 57–42: Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND)’s amendment to prohibit the Council on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency from promulgating rules or guidance that bans hydraulic fracturing (“fracking’) in the US, with Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Bob Casey (D-PA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Ben Lujan (D-NM), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Jon Tester (D-MT) joining Republicans.

Anti-tax messaging amendments

  • 86–13: Sen. Mike Braun’s amendment to remove the prohibition on states’ use of stimulus funds to lower state and local taxes, with the only NO votes coming from Senators Mike Bennet (D-CO), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Angus King (I-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-WA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

Anti-immigrant messaging amendments

  • 53–46: Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN)’s amendment to increase funding for ICE detentions and deportations, with Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) joining Republicans in support.

Other bad messages

  • 95–3: Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO)’s amendment to hire 100,000 new police officers nationwide to combat the “crime wave” in the United States, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) voting no. Again, none of the Democrats voting for this amendment will immunize them from bad-faith Republican attacks, nor would hiring 100,000 new police officers help address a non-existent crime wave rather than exacerbating existing tensions and flaws resulting from overpolicing of marginalized communities.

Some Republican messaging amendments, however, did not pass:

  • 49–50: Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK)’s amendment to prohibit abortions of unborn children with Down syndrome or other chromosomal conditions — a new tactic from anti-choice activists to weaken support for reproductive rights and falsely portray isolated cases as widespread phenomena, with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) joining Republicans and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) joining Democrats.

Unfortunately, two Democratic counter-messaging amendments on fair taxation also failed to pass, due to the decision of some Democrats to want to message to their donors:

  • 49–50: Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)’s estate tax amendment “to establish a reserve fund relating to protecting family farms, ranches, and small businesses while ensuring the wealthy pay their fair share,” with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) voting with Republicans.

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Jonathan Cohn

Editor. Bibliophile. Gadfly. Environmentalist. Super-volunteer for progressive campaigns. Boston by way of Baltimore, London, NYC, DC, and Philly.