Entries in Budget Bill (2)


Senate To Pull All-Night Friday ‘Vote-A-Rama’

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate is doing something a little out of character for a Friday in Congress:  they’re pulling an all-nighter.

A “vote-a-rama” is underway Friday night and senators will be voting on a myriad of back-to-back amendments to the budget bill in a marathon session which could take the Senate well past midnight into the wee hours of Saturday morning.

Friday night’s vote-a-rama  has the potential to break some records.

Since 1977, the most votes in a single vote-a-rama was 44 in 2008. Over 400 amendments have been filed for this vote-a-rama so far.

None of these amendments, even the ones that pass, are in much danger of becoming law. The House and the Senate will vote on separate budgets and the president isn’t required to sign a final version.

But senators are still put on the record and these votes have a tendency to find their way into campaign commercials. The Democrats who control the Senate have avoided moving forward with a budget in recent years. But they had to do it this year because House Republicans were able to tie senators’ paychecks to their ability to pass a budget.

All of that means you get amendments like this:  Democrats forced a vote on the Rep. Ryan’s House Budget. None of the Democrats support it, but now they’ll have Senate Republicans on record as either supporting the budget pathway or not.  That puts Republicans in a pickle since they want to be supportive of an effort to balance the budget in ten years – as Ryan’s budget does. But they also don’t want to vote for changing Medicare – his budget does that too – unless they absolutely have to.

Republican Sen. Hatch brought up a motion to repeal the medical device tax in the health care bill. Democrats don’t really want to gut the mechanisms that finance Obamacare. But they don’t really like the medical device tax either.

Tough votes like these would usually be blocked by party leaders. But not on this Friday night during the budget debate.

It is the Senate equivalent of the Wild West. In a vote-a-rama, amendments don’t have to be filed in order to be voted on. So there is no real way of knowing which of the 400 senators have bothered to file will actually receive votes until they do.  So we won’t know until later whether this vote-a-rama is one for the records books.

Any senator can offer an amendment simply by standing and seeking recognition on the floor – for example Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has filed 51 amendments by himself alone.

A vote-a-rama ends when there is no senator on the floor seeking a vote on an amendment.

To be sure, most of the amendments that the Senate will vote on Friday night have nothing to do with the budget, the base bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said on the floor Friday morning that he hopes senators will keep the number of votes in the normal range of 25-30.

The vote-a-rama started at 3:50 pm.

And besides working well into a Friday night, there is something else that the Senate is doing that they haven’t done in awhile – vote on a budget. This will be the first time a formal budget will be voted on in the Senate for four years.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama Issues 'Signing Statement'; Won’t Abide by Provision in Budget Bill

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In a statement issued Friday evening, President Obama took issue with some provisions in the budget bill -- and in one case simply says he will not abide by it.

Last week the White House and congressional Democrats and Republicans were involved in intense negotiations over not only the size of the budget for the remainder of the FY2011 budget, and spending cuts within that budget, but also several GOP “riders,” or policy provisions attached to the bill.

One rider -- Section 2262 -- de-funds certain White House adviser positions -- or “czars.” The president in his signing statement declares that he will not abide by it.

“The President has well-established authority to supervise and oversee the executive branch, and to obtain advice in furtherance of this supervisory authority,” he wrote. “The President also has the prerogative to obtain advice that will assist him in carrying out his constitutional responsibilities, and do so not only from executive branch officials and employees outside the White House, but also from advisers within it. Legislative efforts that significantly impede the President's ability to exercise his supervisory and coordinating authorities or to obtain the views of the appropriate senior advisers violate the separation of powers by undermining the President's ability to exercise his constitutional responsibilities and take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

Therefore, the president wrote, “the executive branch will construe section 2262 not to abrogate these Presidential prerogatives.”

In other words: we know what you wanted that provision to do, but we don’t think it’s constitutional, so we will interpret it differently than the way you meant it.

Another rider bans the use of federal funds to transfer detainees from Guantanamo to foreign countries unless certain conditions are met.

“Requiring the executive branch to certify to additional conditions would hinder the conduct of delicate negotiations with foreign countries and therefore the effort to conclude detainee transfers in accord with our national security,” the president wrote.

Another rider denies the ability of the Obama administration to prosecute Gitmo detainees in criminal court.

“The prosecution of terrorists in Federal court is a powerful tool in our efforts to protect the Nation and must be among the options available to us,” the president wrote. “Any attempt to deprive the executive branch of that tool undermines our Nation's counterterrorism efforts and has the potential to harm our national security.”

The president said in his statement he will work with Congress to repeal those provisions.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio