Shortly before 2 a.m., having voted on 62 amendments, and about three hours before concluding business, Senate budget charwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., noted to chuckles they’d voted on amendments on just about every topic, “including the budget.”
This was what’s known here as vote-a-rama, where before passing the Senate version of the budget, senators went through dozens of amendments. Most were ideological and political, designed to get members of the other part to take bad votes — like measures to ensure the United States government funds its military at higher levels than the militaries of foreign holders of its debt or to prohibit raising taxes while the unemployment rate is above 5.5 percent. Others, like expressing support for the Keystone Pipeline, were more substantive.
To top it off, the amendments the senators were up until 5 a.m. voting on are non-binding.
Hawaii’s Democratic senators Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono voted together along party lines. One exception was a measure to support Congress creating a budget every two years instead of every year. Schatz voted with the majority, while Hirono voted against it.
Among other votes:
— In a voice vote, the Senate passed an amendment co-sponsored by Hirono to oppose using the so-called chained CPI to measure increases in veterans benefits. The chained CPI would provide for smaller annual cost-of-living increases than the CPI. The amendment sends a signal to President Barrack Obama who is open to using the chained CPI to reduce spending. Veterans groups strongly oppose the chained CPI method;
— Schatz highlighted one