The Senate was the only house in session yesterday, and its activity can be summed up by saying that it voted twice to table the only two amendments to the farm bill it considered.
That's the bottom line of it, but the interesting part is how the votes came about, and why. Recall that in yesterday's post, I mentioned that Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had "filled the amendment tree" in an effort to block Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) from offering his non-germane amendment cutting off foreign aid to Pakistan. With the ability to offer amendments effectively blocked, but 100+ amendments having been proposed, Reid began slowly opening the bottleneck by selecting a few amendments at a time to offer as second-degree amendments to his own amendment that was strategically blocking the path to the floor. That's something he can do on a larger or smaller scale, as he chooses. And right now, it makes sense to let amendments through only in drips and drabs, as an incentive to others to reach a broader deal covering more amendments and moving at a faster pace.
Reid started with two amendments that were narrow in scope, but which generated wide interest among Senators—one by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) to phase out the sugar subsidy program, and another by Rand Paul to replace the food stamps program (now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) with state block grants—both of which he opposed. Then, he moved to table each amendment, effectively killing them. In so doing, he technically gave each amendment a vote, which is supposed to satisfy the proponents, even while they see their amendment buried. That begins to relieve some of the pressure from other Senators to get votes for their amendments, albeit very slowly, while continuing to hold out reason for them to reach wider agreements that will get their amendments the same or similar opportunities.
Looking ahead to today:
So that's where things stand now for the Senate, with over a hundred other amendments proposed, two dispensed with, the second degree amendment pipeline bottled up, and Democrats in talks with Republicans about how many more and which ones ought to be let through, and Reid all the while calculating how many and which ones will have to get votes before 60 Senators will be satisfied enough to vote yes on cloture on the bill and finish things up.
That means today is about keeping the wheels turning on the floor while the dealing is done in private. Nobody knows how many votes there will be, or on which amendments. Senators will just be standing by on the assumption that there's going to be something to vote on, and waiting for those details to come out.
Today's floor and committee schedules appear below the fold.
The House is not in session today.
In the Senate, courtesy of the Office of the Majority Leader:
Senate Floor Schedule for Thursday, June 14, 20126/13 wrap-up:
Following the prayer and pledge, the Majority Leader will be recognized.
Following any Leader remarks, the next hour will be equally divided and controlled between the two Leaders or their designees with Majority controlling the first half and the Republicans controlling the final half.
We continue to work on an agreement on amendments to S.3240, the Farm bill. Votes are possible during Thursday’s session and Senators will be notified when they are scheduled.
Senate Floor Wrap Up for Wednesday, June 13, 2012Today's Senate committee schedule:
ROLL CALL VOTES
1) Reid motion to table the Reid 2nd degree amendment #2393, which is text of Shaheen amendment #2160(Sugar) to the Reid amendment #2392 to S.3240, the Farm bill ; Tabled: 50-46
2) Reid motion to table the Reid amendment #2392 (SNAP); Tabled: 65-33
No LEGISLATIVE ITEMS
No EXECUTIVE ITEMS
Energy and Natural Resources
Hearings to examine competitiveness and collaboration between the United States and China on clean energy.
Hearings to examine Medicare physician payment policy, focusing on lessons from the private sector.
Hearings to examine the Law of the Sea Convention (Treaty Doc. 103-39), focusing on perspectives from the United States military.
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs: Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security
Hearings to examine saving taxpayer dollars by curbing waste and fraud in Medicaid.
Business meeting to consider S.250, to protect crime victims' rights, to eliminate the substantial backlog of DNA samples collected from crime scenes and convicted offenders, to improve and expand the DNA testing capacity of Federal, State, and local crime laboratories, to increase research and development of new DNA testing technologies, to develop new training programs regarding the collection and use of DNA evidence, to provide post conviction testing of DNA evidence to exonerate the innocent, to improve the performance of counsel in State capital cases, S.285, for the relief of Sopuruchi Chukwueke, and the nomination of Brian J. Davis, to be United States District Judge for the Middle District of Florida.
Business meeting to markup proposed budget estimates for fiscal year 2013 for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies and Financial Services and General Government.
An oversight hearing to examine new taxes on tribal self-determination.
Hearings to examine the Law of the Sea Convention (Treaty Doc. 103-39).
Closed hearings to examine certain intelligence matters.