Surprising me more than maybe– I told you guys yesterday it wasn’t going to happen– 11 Republicans voted with Democrats to lift the Mikulski Border Bill over the first procedural hurdle. The sense of the Republican caucus is they oppose the bill as written, but they hope they will be allowed to amend it on the floor, which can not be done if it doesn’t open for debate. Democrat defectors on the vote included Senators Landrieu of LA and Hagan of NC, both of whom are in a serious fight for reelection this year, and in red-leaning States. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) voted to advance to debate, but was today quoted as saying he could not back the final package unless it included changes in the 2008 law. This offers no hint as to whether Manchin will vote in favor of Cloture; he might do so, and if it can be closed, enter a futile and meaningless vote against the measure to say to his constituents he opposed it. I’ll go out on a limb here and say Cloture will not be easy to get; I kind of doubt Republicans will be willing to help bring it to vote unless they can also amend it to make language changes in the Wilberforce act. (Take that with a grain of salt, of course, I was wrong about it yesterday.)
Suprising absolutely no one who knows anything about Senate Democrats or Barbara Mikulski (D-MD, Chair of Senate Appropriations), the senator today admitted she’d prefer to do the entire package, more than 3 billion, as “emergency spending” meaning without offsets to pay for it:
“I think we’ve got to get real here,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who drafted the emergency funding bill, said Wednesday. “The reason I want a supplemental that’s urgent and meets that criteria is that we don’t have to take the money from other important programs that do help America’s family in education, in health, in job retraining in order to bring our jobs back home.”
In other news on the border crisis, House Republicans appear to be on schedule to pass their version of the bill tomorrow, for much less money and a shorter time period, and are looking like they’ll have some success. So much so, the President felt moved to offer a formal veto threat today. I think my bottom line from yesterday still holds up pretty well: the House will get a bill, the Senate will not. If the Senate really leaves town with that unfinished business still hanging [shakes head in disbelief] I do not believe it will do them any political good.