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Last night—and into the wee hours of the morning, the Senate held what has been called its “vote-a-rama,” the voting marathon for amendments to the budget.   I’ve already written a diary about the key early climate-related votes (Keystone and carbon tax), pointing the “climate hall of shamers” in the Democratic Party, and I wanted to review some of the other noteworthy votes.  The amendments were non-binding resolutions, but they offered Senators the opportunity to stake out a position on a variety of issues—part theatrics, part substance.

The Senate Democrats’ budget passed by a slim margin of 50 to 49.  (It would have been 51-49 had Sen. Frank Lautenberg not been ill).  Four Democrats defected and joined the Republicans in opposition to the budget, all of them are up for re-election next year in red states: Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK), Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), and Sen. Mark Pyror (D-AR).  Personally, I don’t see how they think that a vote against the budget helps their re-election prospects much.  Their opponents will likely brand them a “tax-and-spend liberal” whatever they do; if anything, they are probably just seeking to gain the “centrist” credibility that comes with bucking one’s party to have a talking point that they will probably repeat ad nauseam during campaign season. If the voters in their states want to elect an anti-tax candidate who blathers on about the need to slash government spending (save, of course, the bloated Pentagon and DHS budgets), they’ll vote for a Republican.

I thought it would be worthwhile to highlight on some of the votes that saw crossing of party lines.



Eight Democrats voted along with the Republican caucus in support of Sen. Inhofe (R-OK)’s amendment (No. 139) to prevent the US from entering into the United Nations Arms Treaty:

Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK), Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), and Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT)

Five Democrats voted for Rep. Mike Lee (R-UT)’s amendment (No. 673) to require a 60-vote threshold (point of order) for any gun control legislation:

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR)



Seven Republicans voted against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’s amendment (No. 702) to require a point of order (60-vote threshold) against any legislation that would provide taxpayer funds to the United Nations while any member nation forces citizens or residents of that nation to undergo involuntary abortions:

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS)

There was crossing in both directions on Sen. Rubio’s measure to wave the budget process to vote to express the sense of the Senate to enact Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act.  Five Democrats—Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)—voted for it, and one Republican—Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)—voted against it.



There was crossing in both directions on Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)’s amendment (No. 526) to require voters to show photo ID.  Two Republicans—Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)—voted against it, one Democrat—Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)—voted for it, and another Democrat—Sen. Time Kaine (D-VA)—seemingly sat out the vote.



Two Republicans—Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)—voted against Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)’s amendment prohibiting illegal immigrants or illegal immigrants granted legal status from qualifying for federally subsidized health care.



Two Republicans—Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-ME) and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS)—voted against Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)’s amendment (No. 597) prohibiting the use of taxpayer dollars and resources to automatically deduct union dues from the pay of Federal employees (a union-busting “right to work” law for federal employees).



Two Republicans voted against Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)’s amendment (No. 416) to eliminate non-defense related spending by the Department of Defense: Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Ak).  This legislation would have, I infer, prevented DoD from conducting research into renewable energy technology, among other things.



We got to see party-crossing both ways again on Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK)’s amendment against the EPA’s mercury regulations. Four Democrats—Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) voted for it while Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) voted against it.

There was party crossing both ways again on the vote on Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-AK)’s amendment (No. 359) prohibiting further greenhouse gas regulations for the purposes of addressing climate change.  Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) voted against it while Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) voted for it.



There were two amendments addressing the estate tax: Sen. John Thune’s amendment (No. 307), which would permanently eliminate it, and Sen. Mark Warner’s amendment (No. 693 ), which would repeal or reduce the estate tax “but only if done in a fiscally responsible way” (whatever that means).

Thune’s amendment failed 46-53. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) voted for it, and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) voted against it.

Warner’s amendment passed by a surprisingly (I’d say disconcertingly) large margin of 80-19.  The opposition came primarily from the more progressive members of the Dem caucus; however, surprisingly, progressive Democrats Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) all voted along with Warner. What gives?

The 26 Democrats that voted along with Warner were the following:

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), Sen. Mo Cowan (D-MA), Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Sen. Barb Mikulski (D-MD), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).


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