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Four Votes on Supplemental to Start Soon

Senate Democratic and Republican leaders late Wednesday night crafted a deal that could send Senators home for the weeklong Memorial Day recess by Thursday afternoon.

After going back and forth Wednesday on how to proceed on a wartime supplemental spending bill, a budget resolution and a veto override on the farm bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) settled on a series of four votes to complete action on the supplemental. On Thursday morning, votes on the budget resolution and farm bill appeared probable, but were not yet firmly set.

The supplemental votes will begin at 11:30 a.m.

The Senate will first take up a domestic spending package that includes new GI bill educational programs and extended unemployment benefits. If that measure fails to receive the 60 votes needed to block a filibuster, the Senate will vote on a stand-alone GI bill. Wednesday, Republicans indicated the domestic package would likely get 60 votes, obviating the need for the stand-alone vote on the GI bill.

The Senate will then proceed to vote on the war funding portion of the supplemental. A mix of Republican and Democratic Senators likely will kill an amendment that includes restrictions on troop deployments and a call for withdrawal from Iraq by June 2009. Assuming that fails, the Senate will then vote on a straight war funding bill without restrictions.

The entire supplemental package would then be sent over to the House for its concurrence, but the measure is still expected to be vetoed if it includes any Congressionally added domestic funding.

Reid said on the Senate floor Thursday morning that a procedural glitch with the farm bill left a potential override vote uncertain, but likely. Constitutional questions arose in the House yesterday after it was revealed that President Bush vetoed an incomplete version of the bill that passed Congress earlier this month.

“At this time, it’s our intention to override the veto of the farm bill,” Reid said. “Through a clerical error, Section III was left out. … But under good legal precedent — going back to a case, I understand, in 1892, where something like this happened before, it is totally constitutional to do what we’re planning to do. So no one should be concerned about that.”

Reid said he hoped to have a vote on the budget resolution conference report following the farm bill override.

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