Thanks to the delaying tactics of Senator Ron Johnson, Senate clerks were forced to read all 628 pages of the COVID relief bill (HR 1319) Thursday afternoon and evening. They finished up a little after 2 a.m. Friday morning.
At that point, Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland moved that debate be limited to three hours, instead of the usual 20. Since there were no Republicans on the floor at the early hour, Van Hollen’s motion was agreed to and debate began at 9:00 EST Friday.
At this point, Republicans are attempting to delay the bill through what is known as “Vote-A-Rama” by offering dozens of amendments specifically designed to slow things down.
Let’s take them in Chronological Order:
11:03 - Mar 5: The first issue debated on Friday was an attempt by Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to add an increase in the minimum wage to the bill. It failed 42-58, when eight of the more conservative Democrats joined the Republicans (Sanders Amendment 972)
23:41 - Mar 5: Rob Portman’s efforts to reduce unemployment compensation benefits succeeded on a 50-49 vote when Joe Manchin of West Virginia sided with the Republicans (Portman amendment 1092)
Saturday, March 6
00:12 Susan Collins’ efforts to replace the Biden plan with a Republican substitute failed on a 48-51 vote, with Josh Hawley joining Democrats in opposition (Collins Amendment 1242)
00:39 An amendment by Tim Scott failed on a 49-50 vote (Scott of SC amendment 1030)
01:04 An amendment by Ron Wyden (Oregon) passed on a 50-49 vote (Wyden amendment 1378)
01:34 An amendment by Marco Rubio (Florida) on ESSER funding failed 48 to 51, with Susan Murkwoski joining Democrats (Rubio amendment 1319, RC 80)
01:52 An amendment by Maggie Hassan (NH) on safely returning to in-person instruction in schools passed on a 51-48 vote, with Susan Collins joining Democrats (Hassan amendment 1344, RC 81)
02:21 An amendment by Lindsey Graham (SC) was rejected on a 48-51 vote, with Sen. Toomey joining the Democrats (Graham amendment 1369, RC 82)
02:47 An amendment by Jon Tester (MT) requiring President Biden to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, failed on a 51-48 vote, as it required 3/5th approval. Tester was the only Democrat to vote for it. (Tester amendment 1197, RC 83)
03:12 An amendment by Sen. Cassidy (LA) on emergency funding for non-public schools failed on a 49-50 straight party line vote (Cassidy amendment 1161, RC 84)
03:35 A motion by Sen. Charles Grassley to send the bill back to the Committee on Finance was rejectd on a straight party line 49-50 (Grassley motion, RC 85)
04:02 An amendment by Sen. Pat Toomey (PA) striking payments for farmers was rejectd 49-50 (Toomey amendment 1010, RC 86)
04:22 An amendment by Sen. Deb Fischer (NE) on public transportation grants was rejectd 49-50 (Fischer amendment 944, RC 87)
04:51 An amendment by Rand Paul on paycheck protection program payments for nonp-profit entities was rejected 47 to 51. Lisa Murkowski joined the Democrats in voting against. (Paul amendment 1014, RC 88)
05:19 An amendment by Senator Young (IN) to eliminate the Emergency Federal Employee Leave Fund was rejected 48 to 50 (Young amendment 1383, RC 89)
05:42 A motion by Senator Capito (WV) to return the bill to the Committee on Finance was rejected 48 to 50 (Capito motion, RC 90)
06:08 A move by Senator Scott of Florida to eliminate Amtrak funding for the Northeast Corridor was rejected 47 to 51 (Scott of FL amendment 1395, RC 91)
06:31 A motion by Senator Cotton (AR) to return the bill to the Committee on Finance was rejected 48 to 50 (Cotton motion, RC 92)
07:05 An amendment by Sen. Marcia Blackburn (TN) to eliminate section 9831, which sets wage standards for hospital workers, was rejected 49 to 50. Republicans decide hospital employees are not that important during a pandemic (Blackburn amendment 996, RC 93)
07:30 An amendment by Sen. Lankford (OK) was rejected on a vote on 52 to 47. (Lankford amendment 1031, RC 94)
08:06 An amendment by Ted Cruz (TX) on school reopening was rejected on a straight party line vote of 49-50 (Cruz Amendment 969, RC 95)
The Senate was still in the session that began at 9 a.m. Friday morning as of 10 a.m. Saturday morning. I will publish further updates as the Senate continues voting.