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Republicans promise vote-a-rama ‘hell’ as Manchin, Sinema advance Dem social spending and tax bill

Republican senators are promising to make the Senate’s upcoming vote-a-rama “hell” for Democrats over their social spending and tax bill, and are even threatening to tank a continuing resolution as payback. 

“What will vote-a-rama be like? It will be like hell,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said in a press conference Thursday. “They deserve this. As much as I admire Joe Manchin and Sinema for standing up to the radical left at times, they’re empowering legislation that will make the average person’s life more difficult.” 

Graham added: “I’m hoping that we can come up with proposals that will make sense to a few of them, and they will abandon this jihad.”

Sen. Manchin, D-W.Va., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced last week a deal on bill Democrats plan to pass using a process called budget reconciliation. That process will allow them to get around the 60-vote filibuster threshold.  

SINEMA AGREES TO ‘MOVE FORWARD’ WITH SOCIAL SPENDING AND TAX BILL AFTER DEMS MAKE CHANGES

Support from Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., was widely seen as the biggest hurdle for Democrats to pass the bill, because they will need all 50 of their votes to pass the legislation in the evenly-divided Senate. Vice President Kamala Harris can break ties. 

Sinema announced Thursday that she supports moving forward with the bill after Democrats made some changes to it. That move likely sets the legislation on a path to passage. 

First, Democrats will have to move through the procedures of the reconciliation process, including a vote-a-rama, in which senators are allowed to offer unlimited amendments to the bill. The session can include dozens of votes and drag on for the better part of a day, sometimes overnight into the wee hours of the morning. 

Senate GOP Conference Chair John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said Friday Republicans plan to introduce amendments on “energy, inflation, border and crime,” during the session. 

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., calls on a reporter during a press conference about Democrats' reconciliation bill. 

MANCHIN CLAIMS DEMOCRATIC SOCIAL SPENDING AND TAX BILL IS FILLED WITH GOP PRIORITIES

Republicans hope to at least use the process to make Democrats take uncomfortable votes ahead of the midterm elections. They may also be able to change the bill with their amendments, and perhaps sink it entirely if one of those successful amendments causes some Democrats to oppose the bill.

“I think that these votes are going to be hard votes for Democrats,” Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., said. “And I think the question for both Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema is if any of these amendments succeed at the end, will you or will you not vote for the wrap-around amendment?”

A wrap-around amendment is an amendment party leadership often offers at the end of a vote-a-rama, which effectively negates any amendments that passed. It is seen as a way to allow vulnerable members to vote the way they need to on any tough issues brought up by the minority, but prevent any changes from actually making it into the bill. 

“They both said that they won’t vote – after they felt like in the American Rescue Plan they voted for a wrap-around amendment and felt like they were misled by their leadership at the time – that they would never vote for one of those again,” Thune added. “Are those amendments going to be amendments that actually might change the bill, could make it better, might make it harder to pass in the House. Who knows?”

MANCHIN DISPUTES DATA SHOWING SOCIAL SPENDING BILL WOULD RAISE TAXES ON MIDDLE CLASS DURING RECESSION

Tough Senate votes are not the only way Republicans said they plan to get back at Democrats Friday. Graham also mentioned a part of Manchin’s deal with Schumer that included a commitment to vote on energy permitting reform at a later time, potentially in a “continuing resolution” to fund the government. 

Graham said he will oppose any such bill, even if he likes the underlying policy, out of principle because it’s connected to the reconciliation bill. 

“They’re supposed to pay you back on the continuing resolution,” Graham said. “You’re supposed to get some things on permitting reform that maybe I’ll like. You’re supposed to get some special deal for some pipeline in West Virginia.”

“I will not vote for a continuing resolution that is part of a political payback scheme,” Graham said. “Sen. Manchin, if you think you’re going to get 60 votes, to get to sweeteners that can’t be done in reconciliation, you need to think long and hard about what you’re doing.”

Senate GOP Whip John Thune said Friday he hopes some Republican amendments will make it past a Senate vote-a-rama, and perhaps make Democrats' reconciliation bill harder to pass.

Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., also said he would oppose a continuing resolution on those grounds. 

Manchin, meanwhile, says that Republicans are being blinded by partisanship and would be on board with the bill if Congress were not so polarized. 

“The thing I talk to my Republican friends, they always want to make sure that – we’ve just got to have more energy. Well, guess what? We’re going to have a lot more,” Manchin told Fox News Digital Thursday. “We’re going to drill a lot more… We’re going to build some more gas lines to take the energy. And we’re going to invest in the future, energy for the future.”

“They always say, ‘well, we want to pay down debt.’ Well, we’re paying down $300 billion for the first time in 25 years,” Manchin added.

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