The Senate’s Second COVID Recovery Vote-A-Rama, Vote-by-Vote

At 12:12 pm on Saturday afternoon, the Senate voted 50 to 49 in support of the $1.9 trillion COVID recovery package. Every Democrat voted in support, and every Republican voted against the widely popular package.

In the just-over-24 hours leading up to passing the bill, the Senate had taken three dozen votes, part of what is called a “vote-a-rama.”

The vote that got the most news was the first one: the vote on Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)’s amendment to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

The amendment failed 42 to 58, with Democratic Caucus members 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) joining Republicans in opposition.

Due to a point of order from Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the amendment would have needed to clear a 60-vote threshold (which was impossible given the corporate hold on the Republican Party), it is nonetheless both unfortunate and angering to see 8 Democrats vote against it. That being said, the 42 who voted for it was larger than the number of senators who had co-sponsored the bill to do the same.

But what about the other votes?

At 10:58 pm, the Senate voted 50–49 against adjourning, defeating an effort from Mitch McConnell to delay passage.

The other votes, though, were on changing the bill. And most of the votes were party line:

  • 50 to 49 against Tim Scott (R-SC)’s amendment on investigations into nursing home deaths. This was intended more as a messaging amendment against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo than as a way of addressing a real problem. As Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) noted, the bill already provides nursing homes with extra funding.
  • 50 to 49 against Bill Cassidy (R-LA)’s amendment to provide federal funding to private schools
  • 50 to 49 against a motion from Chuck Grassley (R-IA) send the bill back to Finance Committee for 3 days with instruction to remove $86B subsidizing private sector pension plans intended to ensure solvency of multi-employer pension plans
  • 50 to 49 against Pat Toomey (R-PA)’s amendment to strike a provision helping minority-owned farms
  • 50 to 49 against Deb Fischer (R-NE)’s amendment to reduce the funding for transit
  • 50 to 48 against Todd Young (R-IN)’s amendment to reallocate funds for paid leave to Customs & Border Protection
  • 50 to 48 against Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)’s motion to send the bill back to the Finance Committee with instructions to reallocate funding from state and local governments to roads and bridges
  • 50 to 48 against Tom Cotton (R-AR)’s motion to send the bill back to the Finance Committee with instructions to bar funding from “sanctuary cities”
  • 50 to 49 against Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)’s amendment to strike certain types of Medicare hospital payments
  • 50 to 49 against Ted Cruz (R-TX)’s amendment to create education vouchers to divert funding away from public schools and toward private schools if the public schools are not open for in-person instruction, five-days-a-week by the end of the academic year
  • 50 to 49 against Mitt Romney (R-UT)’s amendment to limit aid to state and local governments
  • 50 to 49 against a motion to break up the bill and send it to eleven committees as a delay tactic
  • 50 to 48 against John Kennedy (R-LA)’s amendment to send the bill to the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship with instructions to bar Small Business Administration funds for anyone convicted during past 15 yrs of rioting
  • 50 to 49 against Mike Lee (R-UT)’s amendment to limit the child allowance
  • 50 to 49 against John Cornyn (R-TX)’s motion to send it back to the Health, Labor, Education, & Pensions Committee with instructions for additional border funding
  • 50 to 49 against Bill Cassidy (R-LA)’s amendment to block rebates from going to individuals currently incarcerated
  • 50 to 49 against Ted Cruz (R-TX)’s amendment to block rebates from going to undocumented immigrants
  • 50 to 49 against Mike Lee (R-UT)’s amendment to limit the expansion of the Affordable Care Act subsidies
  • 50 to 49 against Jerry Moran (R-KS)’s amendment to increase the availability of amounts for the Veterans Community Care Program, which is handled in the defense bill
  • 50 to 49 against an a motion from Steve Daines (R-MT) to send the bill back to the Foreign Relations Committee with instructions to include the Keystone XL Pipeline
  • 50 to 49 in favor of an amendment from Ron Wyden (D-OR) to provide a $300 weekly federal unemployment benefit through September 6. This was negotiated down from the original $400 in order to win the support of Joe Manchin, although it was extended a week. Manchin, who represents a poor state but had been an opponent of a $400 weekly benefit, also voted for a Republican amendment from Rob Portman (R-OH) to end the benefits in July.

Not all votes, however, were party line. The Senate voted, for instance…

  • 51 to 48 against Susan Collins (R-ME)’s amendment to replace the bill with the $650 billion package that “moderate” Republicans had proposed. Josh Hawley (R-MO) joined Democrats in opposition.
  • 51 to 48 against Marco Rubio (R-FL)’s amendment to tie school funding to reopening targets. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voted with Democrats in opposition.
  • 51 to 48 in favor of Maggie Hassan (D-NH)’s amendment to require schools, within 30 days of receiving money from the bill, to develop publicly available plans for in-person instruction. Susan Collins (R-ME) joined Democrats in support.
  • 51 to 48 against Lindsey Graham (R-SC)’s amendment to reallocate some of the funding for state and local aid. Pat Toomey (R-PA) joined Democrats in opposition.
  • 51 to 48 in favor of Jon Tester (D-MT)’s amendment to require the President to review and approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. The amendment failed because it needed 60 votes. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Tester joined Republicans in voting for it.
  • 51 to 47 against Rand Paul (R-KY)’s amendment to block Paycheck Protection Program funding from going to Planned Parenthood. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) joined Democrats in opposition. (Note that Susan Collins did not.)
  • 51 to 47 against Rick Scott (R_FL)’s amendment to reallocate money from Amtrak to procurement of HC-130J aircraft by the Coast Guard. Jerry Moran (R-KS) joined Democrats in opposition.
  • 52 to 47 in support of Jim Lankford (R-OK)’s amendment to apply the Hyde Amendment (which blocks federal funding for abortion) to the bill. Bob Casey (D-PA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Joe Manchin (D-WV) voted for it, but it needed 60 votes to pass.
  • 50 to 49 against Tommy Tuberville (R-AL)’s amendment to block Title II funding from any school that allows trans women to participate in women’s athletics. Joe Manchin (D-WV) joined Republicans in support, but Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) joined Democrats in opposition.
  • 51 to 48 against Rick Scott (R-FL)’s motion to send the bill back to the Homeland Security Committee with instructions to tie lawmaker pay to passing a budget. Rand Paul (R-KY) joined Democrats in opposition.
  • 54 to 45 against Chuck Grassley (R-IA)’s amendment to redirect funds to crops insurance subsidies for Iowa farmers. Mike Lee (R-UT), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Pat Toomey (R-PA) joined Democrats in opposition.

Only one amendment was non-controversial among senators. Mark Warner (D-VA)’s amendment to extend the authority for Federal contractors to reimburse employees unable to perform work due to the COVID-19 pandemic until the end of September passed 93 to 6.

Mike Braun (R-IN), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mike Lee (R-UT), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) voted against it.