The Hill: The Democratic-controlled Senate appears set to approve its first budget resolution in four years. Votes on amendments to the budget began Thursday night, with a final vote set for late Friday or early Saturday.
“…before the Senate passes its budget this weekend, it must first get through “votearama” — the quirk in the budget rules that essentially opens the amendment floodgates to eager lawmakers.
These amendments, like the budget itself, aren’t really binding. They’re highly politicized. And because there hasn’t been a Senate budget in a few years, there’s a huge pent up demand among members for using votearama as an opportunity to preen and take political stands. [...]
For instance: Last night, Senate Dems put Republicans on the spot and forced a vote on the House GOP budget. It failed, obviously, but because it’s the GOP’s central organizing manifesto, nearly every Republican member voted for it.
What went mostly unnoticed, though, is that Dems also forced the GOP to take a position on the single most politically contentious part of the Ryan budget — its call to replace the Medicare guarantee with a private insurance subsidy. That amendment was written to put members on record over whether to prohibit such a dramatic policy change. And by a vote of 96-3 the Senate answered that question with a resounding “yes.” Only Sens. Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul voted to effectively endorse Medicare privatization.
That says a lot about the politics of the Republican platform. Their commitment to a fiscal policy agenda they know to be politically toxic in its particulars is actually pretty impressive.
Democrats, by contrast, voted to preserve the tax increases their budget calls for. And they will circle their wagons around the Affordable Care Act when Republicans try to use the budget process to significantly undermine it. But on the particular, narrow issue of the ACA’s medical device tax, more than half the party joined the GOP in support of an amendment that called for its repeal…”
How bad was Paul Ryan’s night? Joan McCarter on March 22, 2013
Every Senate Republican but three voted to repudiate Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan. The three? The three teabaggiest of all: Rand Paul (R-KY) Mike Lee (R-UT), and Ted Cruz. …The slap-in-the-face vote was cast yesterday as the Senate continued working on its 2014 budget, an opportunity for all sorts of political hay-making, because budget rules allow for unlimited amendments. This one was offered by Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Thursday night. It’s a “No Vouchers for Medicare” amendment, repudiating the Ryan budget and “to prohibit replacing guaranteed benefits with the House passed budget plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program.” The Senate voted overwhelmingly for it, 96-3.
“There seemed to be some resistance among my Republican colleagues in bringing up the House Republican budget for a vote. And it’s pretty easy to see why that is. The House Republican approach has been thoroughly reviewed and just as thoroughly rejected by the American people.” — Patty Murray, twisting the knife last night.
Paul Ryan’s star is definitely fading. Last year, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) was hailed as the man with a plan to save America. Today, barely half of his own party thinks highly of him. According to a Rasmussen poll released Monday, Ryan’s approval rating has plummeted since the November election. In the poll, only 35 percent of likely voters said they had a favorable view of him, while a 54 percent majority said they viewed him unfavorably. That’s a stunning reversal from last August, when 50 percent of voters liked Ryan, versus 32 percent who did not.
Also: The 39th time was not the charm on Obamacare repeal | Steve Benen on March 22, 2013:
The Senate on Friday rejected another GOP attempt to repeal President Obama’s healthcare law. An amendment to the Senate budget resolution from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) failed on a 45-54 vote on Friday. Cruz’s amendment would have repealed the Affordable Care Act and encouraged patient-centered reforms to reduce costs.
Senate Republicans knew Cruz’s amendment was pointless, and knew it wouldn’t pass, but literally every GOP senator voted for it anyway — just because. [...]
To listen to Republican rhetoric on Capitol Hill is to hear a series of complaints about President Obama: he’s not being “serious” enough about getting things done… But it’s against this backdrop that Republicans vote, over and over again, to repeal a health care law they know won’t be repealed. They do so, in part because they have a radicalized base that expects near-constant pandering, in part because some of their leaders have broader ambitions and see these tactics as useful, and in part because these votes just seem to help Republicans feel better about themselves.
Michele Bachmann will be so upset. Literally!
Also Rand Paul, the winner of CPAC, is sponsoring a far-right extremist amendment to have the U.S. withdraw from the U.N. Not only is that a terrible idea for several reasons (one being economically), but “a recent poll showed that eight in ten Americans believe that the U.S. needs to maintain a strong relationship with the United Nations.”
And get this: Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) “is planning on filing an amendment to the Senate budget resolution making it impossible for any gun control legislation to pass the Senate without a two-thirds majority—a standard currently reserved for the ratification of treaties. (That’s an even higher threshold than that imposed by filibusters, which can be broken with 60 votes.) “[I]f the Lee amendment is passed, the practical effect will be that gun control can never again pass the Senate,” the far-right Second Amendment group Gun Owners of America boasted in an email to members on Friday. Lee’s amendment won’t pass. But the fact that Republicans would consider carving out an entirely new voting threshold just for gun control legislation tells you just how little ground they’re willing to concede, at least publicly, on this fight.”
More excitement (haha) at CSpan2!