Senate Advances Highway Bill While Members Were Playing Tennis

Written by SK Ashby

Members of the Senate had already left the capitol for the night yesterday when they were notified that they should return for another vote to advance the highway funding bill.

The vote caught many senators by surprise. Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore,. were warming up for the Washington Kastles Charity Classic when they got word of the vote. They dropped their racquets, got on their phones and prepared to pack it in and head back to the Capitol. [...]

Back at the Kastles Classic, the PA announcer made light of the situation: “Some of our players are not here yet, because they are making our government run more effectively,” the announcer said.


While most of the Democratic leadership of the Senate and a handful of Republicans voted against proceeding with the bill, again, a handful of Democrats agreed to proceed after Mitch McConnell dropped the provision that would offset highway spending with cuts to Social Security.

At the time of advancement last night, it was not clear what would replace the Social Security cuts.

The Senate will now begin debate on the bill which may see a number of amendments including Ted Cruz's amendment to end employer contributions for congressional healthcare, and Rand Paul's amendment to defund Planned Parenthood.

The cuts to Social Security may have been removed, which was a major sticking point for congressional Democrats, but provisions that House Republicans object to have not been removed. The more severely conservative members of the House are opposed to any measure that increases revenue to pay for anything. They also adamantly oppose reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.

If the Senate version of the bill reaches the House, it's not clear to me if House Democrats will force a vote on an amendment to ban the confederate flag from national cemeteries. As far as I know, appropriations bills are still on hold.