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Senate Appropriations Debates Floor Tactics

There’s been scant movement so far to begin talks that could lead to a budget agreement later this year, but robust debate has been playing out in the House and Senate Appropriations committees for several months.

Here are excerpts of a discussion about floor tactics and the potential for a new budget agreement that played out at a Senate Appropriations markup earlier this month:

Ranking Democrat Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland: “When bills come before the Senate on the floor, Democrats will vote against the motion to proceed to these bills, not because we want to be pugnacious or obstructionist. But we know we need to end sequester, have more money and new framework along the lines of the Murray-Ryan deal. We hope we can achieve that sooner rather than later. We would hope that we wouldn’t even need to get into that parliamentary situation, but we need to act now.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.: “I object to this business that ‘We’re going to not allow you to bring [spending bills to the floor]  . . .  because the president might veto it.’ Let’s bring it to the floor, pass it, if he vetoes it then we can have our discussion.”

Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill.: “The senator from Tennessee said earlier that we ought to go through the orderly process, which as I imagine would involve calling this bill to the floor, subjecting it to amendment, then meeting in conference with the House  . . .  then the president will veto the bill as he has promised. Then there will be an attempt to override the veto, which I don’t believe would succeed, and then we would sit down and talk. Our position on our side is why do we want to wait until the end of September to have this talk? It’s time for us to do it now.”

Alexander: “We’re batting three for 60 [on floor consideration of the 12 annual appropriations bills] over the last five years, three times we’ve taken a bill across the floor. We should stop that kind of practice and do our job.”

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