UPDATE: Laura Clawson
Eighteen Republicans voted yes: Blunt, Boozman, Capito, Collins, Cornyn, Cotton, Graham, Inhofe, McConnell, Moran, Murkowski, Portman, Romney, Rounds, Shelby, Thune, Wicker, Young.
The must-pass omnibus bill to fund the federal government for this fiscal year appeared endangered late Wednesday night, with Democratic Sen. Chris Coons saying it was “hanging by a thread.” But, with lawmakers eager to head home for the holidays, the Senate got its act together early Thursday and moved forward, passing the bill 68-29 so that it can move on to the House.
Republican attacks on immigration proved a key holdup, with Sen. Mike Lee insisting on an amendment tying Homeland Security funding to Title 42, the Trump-era anti-asylum policy that continues to be fought out. Democrats eventually decided to offer a competing amendment that would also extend Title 42, but would likely fail while giving Democrats cover to vote against Lee’s amendment. That way, neither amendment wins but everyone who wants to look adequately mean to migrants can say they voted to extend Title 42. The Senate, man.
On Wednesday night, that was the issue that looked likely to take down funding for most of the federal government. Once it was worked out, the Senate started plowing through votes on 18 amendments total. A couple of those included big wins: The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act got through 73-24, and the PUMP Act passed 92-5. Those measures require businesses to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers and expand the right to pump breast milk on the job, respectively. These are big improvements for pregnant workers and ones with newborns, and the votes weren’t even close, yet they had to be wedged in as last-minute amendments on a much bigger bill. Again I say, the Senate, man.
RELATED STORY: Government spending bill will include Electoral Count Act, making the next coup attempt harder
Another amendment passed calling for assets seized from sanctioned Russian oligarchs to go to benefit Ukraine.
Negotiators released a deal on the funding bill early Tuesday, including $858 billion for the military over the next year and $772 billion for nondefense spending, of which $119 billion is for veterans’ care. The bill also includes nearly $45 billion in aid for Ukraine and more than $40 billion in disaster relief funding for the U.S. Additionally, it delays cuts to Medicare and other programs and includes the Electoral Count Act, which, in response to Donald Trump’s attempted coup, makes crystal clear that the vice president cannot refuse to certify an election and increases the number of lawmakers required to object to certifying a state’s electors.
As the Senate voted on amendments on Thursday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it’s her “hope” to pass the omnibus bill in the House on Thursday night. It’s likely to be a late night in the House, though, since as Punchbowl’s Jake Sherman explains, it will take the Senate some time to get the bill to the House, after which the House Rules Committee will have to meet, after which the full House can move on to debate, the length of which will be affected by how dedicated House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is to posturing against it. Still, the House will be getting this done before the Friday midnight deadline.
By holding things up all along the way, Republican senators may have screwed themselves a little bit on a personal level:
Feel free to laugh at that. I did.