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Amendments Pile Up on Economic Development Bill

Another modest Senate bill is getting turned into a pincushion for unrelated amendments — including a partisan push for a vote on a “clean” debt limit hike, a repeal of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law and even an attempt to exempt the “sand dune lizard” from the Endangered Species Act.

The Senate is technically on a reauthorization of the Economic Development Administration, but like an earlier small-business reauthorization bill, this one is starting to attract a flood of amendments. It may ultimately go nowhere.

The main event of the week, an amendment to delay swipe-fee regulations, failed early Wednesday afternoon.

Afterward, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) offered a “clean” debt limit increase, in what would be a reprise of the House Republicans’ vote last week to kill such a hike in an effort to gain leverage over Democrats in bipartisan debt talks. Paul said he was offering an amendment he intends to vote against “in consideration with the majority’s wishes.”

That brought a rebuke from Sen. Barbara Boxer. “Let the games begin. That’s what’s going on around here. … You can tell from the tone and tenor of Sen. Paul that he finds it amusing,” the California Democrat said.

Boxer called the move “outrageous” and part of a pattern of setting up “gotcha” votes instead of allowing a bipartisan jobs bill to move forward.

She bemoaned that dozens of unrelated amendments are already pending to the bill.

Among them is one offered by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) to repeal Dodd-Frank and eliminate the EDA too. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) wants a vote on allowing states to opt out of the health care law. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) still has it out for ethanol blender pumps. And Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) is the one who has it out for the lizard.

It’s not clear yet which amendments will get votes. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) earlier ripped the House Republican stunt of voting down a clean debt ceiling increase as irresponsible, and he has blasted Senate Republicans for filibustering the small-business bill earlier this year, after Reid blocked a vote on an amendment from Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).

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