For several hours Friday night and through early morning Saturday, Senate members will vote on scores of amendments from a list of hundreds of ideas proposed as part of the Senate Budget Resolution vote.
It's likely none will become law. (The Senate would need to reconcile its budget resolution with the House version, which is not expected to happen.)
Welcome to vote-o-rama 2013, where senators can file as many amendments as they please for the budget vote. For most Senate bills, the majority leader has the power to restrict the number of amendments introduced by members, but with budget resolutions, there are virtually no limits. It was 2009 the last time the Senate voted on a budget, so members have been piling up ideas for years.
On Friday, lawmakers dusted them off for their day in the spotlight. Although these pieces of legislation will not become law, the exercise offers the senators an opportunity to give their pet ideas exposure. Sometimes members will introduce amendments from their political opponents because they know they will fail. Other amendment votes can serve as a trial run: A successful vote here means there's a fair chance it could pass later.
By the time of the first vote Friday, more than 400 amendments had been filed by both Republicans and Democrats.
Not all of these will receive floor time, but take a look at some of the ideas proposed below. They offer a peek into what these senators would accomplish, if only they could:
- New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte would prohibit tax increases during periods when the unemployment rate remains above 5.5 percent. She would also restrict the Senate from passing any bills after April 15 unless the chamber agrees on a budget resolution.
- Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill wants to end automatic pay raises for members of Congress.
- Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, McCaskill, Rob Portman of Ohio, Marco Rubio of Florida and Ayotte would place an outright ban on Senate earmarks.
- Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts wants to stop the federal government from using federal funds to market the Affordable Care Act.
- Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn would withhold the paycheck of the director of the Office of Budget and Management until the president submits a budget.
- A bipartisan coalition of senators filed an amendment that would repeal the medical device tax in Obama's health care law. (This actually passed, but again, it won't become law until it receives its own vote.)
- Washington Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell and Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski proposed a federal mandate that all "genetically engineered" fish be labeled as such. This is a big one in their states, where companies that market wild-caught fish compete with farmed fish.
- Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter wants to end a welfare program that provides mobile phones to the poor. For those who are on welfare, he would drug test them.
- Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe wants to prohibit more regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.
- New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer and Murkowski called for rolling back the new TSA rules that allow small knives on airplanes.
- Nevada Democratic Sen. Reid and Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey want to take a "sense of the Senate" on whether terrorists should be allowed to have guns.
- Alaska Democratic Sen. Mark Begich would restrict people with an adjusted gross income of over $1 million from unemployment assistance if they lose their jobs.
- Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn would eliminate tax breaks for the "PGA tour, NFL, NASCAR, Hollywood, fish tackle box manufacturers, and Eskimo whaling captains."
- Washington Democratic Sen. Patti Murray proposed the House Republican budget written by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. It failed, which was the point.
-And last but not least on our limited but fun list, Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee would "eliminate funding to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service relating to the Utah Prairie Dog."