From FNC Kara Rowland:
It’s high noon today in the Senate regarding the House-passed continuing resolution (CR). Here’s some guidance on what to expect.
WHAT IS HAPPENING TODAY IN THE SENATE
After a dramatic several days — punctuated by Sen. Ted Cruz’s 21-hour marathon speech railing against Obamacare and a move Thursday by his ally, Sen. Mike Lee, to delay a key procedural vote — the Senate is set to consider cloture on the CR today around 12:30 p.m. That vote will be subject to a threshold of 60, meaning that if all 54 Democrats (counting the two independent senators who caucus with them) stick together, Reid will need to pick up six Republican senators in order to invoke cloture.
If cloture is invoked — and indeed, given the vows by many Republicans NOT to oppose cloture on the House-passed CR (which at this point still defunds Obamacare) it is expected to be invoked — there are three subsequent votes that will take place. After cloture, the next vote will be on waiving budget “points of order” against the CR as its funding level is about $20 billion above what the Budget Control Act calls for in fiscal 2014. It requires 60 votes to waive a budget point of order, so again, Reid will need to pick up some GOP votes to do so. Given that many of those cuts come to the Pentagon, Democrats hope some of the Republican defense hawks will join them in that effort.
The third roll call vote will be on Reid’s amendment stripping the bill of the defunding language and changing the CR date to Nov. 15, among other technical changes. By rule, post-cloture amendments that are germane can pass with a simple majority vote so Democrats obviously have the support to do so even though they will presumably lose all Republican votes. The final vote will be on passage of the CR as amended if amended. This too will only require 51 votes.
The senate convenes at 9:30 a.m. this morning. Soon after the customary prayer and the pledge of allegiance, Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell usually address the floor in leader remarks. The time until the voting series begins is equally divided for debate among both sides.
As the Senate wraps up its debate on the cloture motion, at 12:10 p.m., McConnell is to be recognized for 10 minutes, followed by Reid for the final 10 minutes.
Then, at 12:30 p.m., the chamber begins its voting series on the CR in the order I have outlined above. Here is the list as laid out by Senate leadership:
At 12:30pm, there will be up to 4 roll call votes in relation to the following in the following order. All votes after the first vote will be 10 minutes in duration and there will be 2 minutes of debate between each vote.
Cloture on H.J.Res.59;
Motion to waive budget points of order;
Reid-Mikulski amendment #1974; and
Passage of H.J.Res.59, as amended, if amended.
Note that the first roll call vote on cloture will last 15 minutes. Unlike the House, which votes electronically, the Senate does so with the clerks manually tabulating votes — that means we won’t have instant results and it *could* take anywhere from 10-15 minutes or even longer after the vote closes to know the results/vote breakdown. However, we will issue all the guidance we can during the vote as it takes place (including noting when enough GOP senators vote “aye” that the motion appears to have the support to be successful). The subsequent three votes will last 10 minutes each, with two minutes in between.
So, given that flexibility it is tough to estimate exactly when the voting series will conclude. But knowing that there is at least 45 minutes of actual voting plus the time to tally the votes and the time in between, it’s easy to see the series lasting more than an hour.
WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY
Just to be clear on how we got here, recall the testy back-and-forth between Cruz and Lee on the one side and Reid, joined by Republican critics including Sen. Bob Corker, on the other during Thursday’s Senate session. Reid had attempted to wrap the CR up on Thursday via a “unanimous consent” (UC) request, which requires only one objection to block. Lee objected, insisting that the vote take place during the day when the American people are more likely to be paying attention, and hence the Friday afternoonvote series.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
If things go as expected — remember, this is the Senate and anything can happen but barring significant last-minute developments the writing appears to be on the wall here — the Senate will adopt the amended CR this afternoon, throwing the (altered) hot potato back at the House, which per House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s guidance will not start its consideration until Saturday. Any House changes to the Senate-passed CR would result in it pinging back to the Senate.
Needless to say, time is of the essence …Oct. 1 is Tuesday.