Senate Republicans are expected to take advantage of the rules set by the Democrats to advance President Joe Biden's coronavirus stimulus plan while avoiding a filibuster, Fox News reports.
The rules are part of a process known as "reconciliation," whereby only 50 Senators are required to pass a budget, bypassing the filibuster. However, such a process also allows any Senator to file an amendment and forces a vote on all of them within a short time frame, an event often termed "vote-a-rama."
Republicans have decried the use of reconciliation by Democrats as a measure to avoid working with Republicans on the budgetary proposal, which in their view violates Biden's numerous promises to unify the country.
Using "vote-a-rama," Senate Republicans led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell plan to force Democrats to vote on a series of uncomfortable topics.
"We’ll be discussing the facts," said McConnell. "Senate Republicans will be ready and waiting with a host of amendments to improve the rushed procedural step that’s being jammed through."
"We’ll be getting senators on the record about whether taxpayers should fund checks for illegal immigrants… whether Democrats should raise taxes on small businesses in the midst of this historic crisis… and whether generous federal funding should pour into school districts where the unions refuse to let schools open," he continued. "And this is just a small taste."
Shortly after McConnell's speech, Republican Senator Josh Hawley introduced an amendment which would revoke funding from schools which don't allow their students back in the classroom.
"In spite of overwhelming evidence that schools can reopen safely, partisan advocates are using children’s education as a cudgel to push their radical agendas," said Hawley. "The effect on children and working-class families has been absolutely devastating. The federal government should put an end to this two-tiered education system for the haves and the have-nots by incentivizing schools to safely reopen."
Another Republican, Senator Steve Daines, said that he would be leading seven amendments to the budget vote, among which include reversing Biden's executive order forcing the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, allowing for the continuation of oil and gas drilling leases on federal land, preventing tax increases during the pandemic.
Republican Senator Tom Cotton has also indicated that he will be adding to the pile of amendments, including amendments to increase funding to the US nuclear program, opposing foreign abortion funding, cutting off illegal immigrants from government-sponsored healthcare programs, and opposing the packing of the Supreme Court.
Some of the amendments may be dropped by the Byrd rule, however, which disallows amendments unrelated to the budget from being proposed during a reconciliation vote.
Reopening schools is likely to be the most major topic for Republicans during reconciliation, a topic which McConnell spent most of his Wednesday speech discussing. Biden also has supported reopening schools, promising to do so in his first 100 days as President. It remains to be seen whether he will fulfill this promise.
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