WASHINGTON — Two showdown votes are planned for this afternoon, when Senate Democrats will try a second time to wind down debate on financial reform and House Republicans aim to force a test vote to cut welfare spending.
Senate Democrats failed to reach the 60 votes necessary to cut of debate, thanks to two of their own members defecting and voting with much of the Republican caucus in opposing the cloture vote. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken supported cloture.
A handful of Democrats had expressed frustration that some of the toughest proposed amendments to financial reform legislation wouldn’t be given a vote, and two of them opposed ending debate.
Meanwhile in the House, Republicans will offer a test vote on cutting a $2.5 billion welfare program they say is no longer needed and, according to GOP Whip Eric Cantor, “undercuts cost-saving welfare reforms made in the mid 1990s.”
That program won the Republicans’ first YouCut contest, where the public is asked to vote on a program to cut each week (the winner getting a test vote on the House floor) and in which Cantor said more than 280,000 people voted.
This week, the nominees include suspending federal land purchases for a year and cutting a $1 million mohair subsidy.
Democrats have derided the program as a gimmick and have become even more livid about the tactic given that Republicans scuttled two bills earlier this week with an unrelated motion requiring federal contractors certify they weren’t hiring child molesters and another that forbids paying federal employees who have viewed pornography on work computers.
Norman Ornstein, a Minnesota native and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, agreed in a Roll Call op-ed that such measures aren’t actually serious attempts at legislating.
“[House Minority Leader] John Boehner used to be a serious legislator. Eric Cantor is smart and a justifiably rising star in the GOP firmament,” Ornstein wrote. “But they are becoming the Bart Simpsons of Congress, gleeful at smarmy and adolescent tactics and unable and unwilling to get serious.”