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Vote-a-rama update

The Senate worked pretty through last night, with exhausted Democrats fending off amendments from exhausted Republicans. "These [amendments] have only one purpose," tweeted Sen. Claire McCaskill. "Obstruct and delay. This is just a game. Hope they will figure out it's not working soon."

It didn't work. Every Republican amendment was knocked back, though there are more to go today. What did work was Republicans poring over the reconciliation bill. They found what a Republican aide told Roll Call "amount to drafting errors" in the language governing the Pell grants, which convinced the parliamentarian to strike 16-lines of text from the 153-page bill. That means that after the Senate votes on the reconciliation bill -- a vote that is scheduled, but may or may not happen, at 2 p.m. -- the legislation will have to head back to the House for final ratification.

Given that this is, aside from those 16 deleted lines, the same piece of legislation the House passed on Sunday, it shouldn't be a very tough lift. And majority leader Steny Hoyer said as much this morning. "I expect to get this bill back from the Senate sometime this afternoon," he told CBS, "and I would expect several hours after we will have the bill on the floor, and we will pass the bill and send it to the president."

By Ezra Klein  |  March 25, 2010; 8:25 AM ET
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Do you think that Clyburn's comment about the House having enough votes to pass a public option amendment (as reported by Ryan Grimm) is yet another insincere passing of the buck?

Posted by: billy_burdett | March 25, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

On Ann Coulter: There are other ways to suggest an idea and not insult a culture by asking them to take a camel.

...and so, in this country, let's re-invent history based on political views, fan the flames of hate by lying, encourage hateful language for minorities and others, send seniors to Siberia and hope they die, elevate ignorance and degrade common sense, ignore the needs of our soldiers stuck in foreign soil on a war waged without reason, hide our heads in the sand on climate change, forget that charity begins at home, give money to companies that oblivious to the alarming economic downfall, pay one hundred million dollar bonuses with monies provided by their victims, reward homebuyers who purchased homes without affording it and punish those who worked hard and continue to honor their mortgage, elect politicians that are paid salaries by never working or showing up for legislative hearings, ignore an educational system that excels on paperwork and sloth, instill pride in the deculturization of our country, promote television pastors that prosletyze politics and pay no taxes, protect modern-day prophets that cheat, lie and sin, a legal system whose scale is imbalanced where the byword is 'just us'; not 'justice', turn a blind eye to the violence breaking out on our borders, allow some companies, for the sake of profit, to export jobs so badly needed here, allow insurance companies to 'eye-gouge' those who really need help and defend it by calling it 'private enterprise', strike down a health care program based on politics and not people, where dissent is confused with sedition, and oh, yes, the possible legalization of marihuana...

Please, God, bless the United States of America...

Posted by: olgaolivia1 | March 25, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

I am so tired of the Republicans playing games with politics. Let me guess, now they LOVE the parliamentarian, since he ruled in their favor on a couple lines out of the entire bill. Next time he rules against the R's, he will be getting bricks thrown through his window. As an independent voter, I will not again vote for a Republican, until they clean up their act.

Posted by: pgmichigan | March 25, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I, personally, think this bill sucks....but, it is time to move on with other business of this government. The test of the popularity of this bill will come in November.....let's not rehash the points any more!



Posted by: my4653 | March 25, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Roll Call reported that the Republicans caught these drafting errors earlier in the week, and that McConnell kept them "in his back pocket" all week so they could trip up Dems during vote-a-rama.

I find it absolutely incredible that nobody's going after the Republican Senate for their breathtaking action here. And, in fact, the Republicans are BRAGGING about this ridiculous and childish stunt.

These were meaningless drafting errors that Republicans found. And rather than leave them be or--even better--alert Dems to their presence in the bill before it passed so Dems could fix them, they used them to waste hours and hours and hours of everyone's time.

This is as unserious as governing gets. Keeping the Senate from doing actual business so they can vote on amendments intended only for attack ads, and then forcing this bill to go back to the House on a technicality, wasting even more of everyone's time. Oh, and the hissyfit they're throwing in refusing to allow any hearings after 2 PM.

Seriously, what's next? They file suit that this bill is unconstitutional because Obama signed it with 20 pens instead of in one continuous signature with one pen?

Posted by: theorajones1 | March 25, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

so here's a crazy thought. Those amendments that Dems agree with like some of the ones Senator Coburn brought up. Why not vote your conscience and/or what your constituents want if the bill is going back anyway.

oh and theorajones,

i'm sure Dems have NEVER held anything back they knew when it helped them politically. What's the saying "those without sin cast the first stone?"

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 25, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

"i'm sure Dems have NEVER held anything back they knew when it helped them politically."


Can you enlighten me on how delaying the final passage of the bill for a few extra hours by sending it back to the House for one more vote helps the Republicans politically?

It just appears to needlessly burn up the time and money of our government, for no apparent political gain at all. I guess I must be missing something.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Why were changes to funding college educations tacked onto a health reform bill?

How did a bill that promised to ban pre-existing conditions for children, and that my Congressman has already promoted in the media, have an error that was undetected until after the President signed the bill? Surely it wasn't because no one really knows what they voted on.

Posted by: annetta3 | March 25, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse


The "error" was not in the bill that Obama has already signed into law. It is in the reconciliation sidecar legislation, and it is a minor technicality having to do with reconciliation criteria, not a substantive issue.

The student loan reforms were added in because they are very popular, badly needed in a time of sky-rocketing tution costs, and including them with HCR was a good way to expedite passage.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to disagree, Patrick_M, but if the student loan reforms were so popular they could have gone through on their own. I was incorrect in saying that was an error in the HCR bill, but still think they should not have been bundled with a totally separate issue such as health reform.

Regardless of how they were submitted, if the bill was posted for an appropriate amount of time (72 hours) errors would probably have been caught.

Posted by: annetta3 | March 25, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse


The reconciliation bill WAS posted for 72 hours before the House voted. Again, although it may be difficult for you to understand, the "errors" were technical matters of parliamentary interpretation relating to reconciliation criteria. A different parliamentarian, might have ruled a different way. And, so what? The language was changed to suit the parliamentarian's opinion, and then the bill went to final vote in the Senate and the House.

Yes, the Student loan reforms were popular enough to go through on their own, but again, so what? This way they could be passed quickly.

If you had kids enrolled in college worrying about tuition hikes in 2010-2011, you'd be very happy that there will now be more financial aid available, at no additional cost to the government.

What's your objection anetta3? The student loan reforms address an important problem, and this way they passed in an expeditious manner with clear majorities in both chambers of Congress...that's how good government is supposed to work.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 25, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

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