Nine Senate Democrats are blowing up Mitch McConnell’s Senate agenda by demanding votes on four popular liberal issues.
In a letter to McConnell, nine Senate Democrats (Sens. Durbin, Murray, Wyden, Shaheen, Brown, Schumer, Casey, Schatz, Franken) called for votes on liberal issued that were popular during the Senate’s budget vote-a-rama:
As you know, amendments to the budget that are voted on during vote-a-rama do not have the force of law. However, a bipartisan majority vote on an amendment can be an important mark of whether or not a certain policy can pass the Senate with a 60 vote affirmative threshold. Too often, the budget vote-a-rama is characterized as a partisan exercise that leaves no lasting policy impact. Working with you, we hope to make this Budget vote-a-rama different. While we strongly oppose the underlying Senate Republican budget and the negative impacts it would have on middle-class and working families, we believe the following four amendments represent policies that deserve a vote in this Congress.
Paid Sick Leave (passed 61-39) – Amendment No. 798 to improve workplace benefits and reduce health care costs, which may include measures to allow Americans to earn paid sick time to address their own health needs and the health needs of their families, and to promote equal employment opportunities.
Ending Discrimination Against Pregnant Workers (passed 100-0) – Amendment No. 632 to increase employment opportunities and prevent employment discrimination, which may include measures to prevent employment discrimination against pregnant workers, to provide pregnant workers with a right to workplace accommodations, and to ensure that employers comply with requirements regarding such workplace accommodations for pregnant workers.
Equal Access to Benefits for Same-Sex Couples (passed 57-43) – Amendment No. 1063 to ensuring all legally married same-sex spouses have equal access to the Social Security and veterans benefits they have earned and receive equal treatment under the law pursuant to the Constitution of the United States.
Middle-Class Tax Cuts (passed 73-27) – Amendment No. 968 to enacting middle class tax relief, including extending and expanding refundable tax credits, such as tax provisions and policies included in legislation like the Working Families Tax Relief Act, American Opportunity Tax Credit Permanence and Consolidation Act, Helping Working Families Afford Child Care Act, or the 21st Century Worker Tax Cut Act.
Each of the issues that the Democrats listed have proven their popularity in the Senate. Three of the four have already met the 60 vote threshold for passage.
Issues like an end to discrimination against pregnant workers, paid sick leave, and middle-class tax cuts would be huge for the majority of the country. Equal access to benefits for same-sex couples would also be big, but if the budget votes are a guide, that issue might come up a vote or three short of passage.
Senate Democrats are aggressively seizing the agenda, and push Mitch McConnell’s dream of a Koch driven Senate off to the side. Democrats know that McConnell is getting desperate to pass legislation, and they are taking advantage of the Majority Leader’s flailing by offering up several issues that would pass if legislation were brought to the floor for a vote.
The letter to McConnell is more proof that Republicans may hold the Senate majority, but it’s Democrats who are driving the agenda.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor, who is White House Press Pool, and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association