Senate Hits Procedural Breaks on EXPIRE Act – Hatch and Wyden Working on Solutions

[Updated 05/16/2014 at 12:15 P.M. Pacific Time.]
Not withstanding the Senate’s overwhelming bipartisan support for the EXPIRE Act as demonstrated on Monday, a procedural move by Senate Democratic leaders has resulted in a (hopefully temporary) Republican revolt against the bill.
Yesterday, after amending HR 3474 to include the full language of the EXPIRE Act, Senate leadership called for a cloture vote. They did this, however, after blocking Republican attempts to bring up amendments. As a result, the cloture vote failed 53 to 40 with Republicans loudly protesting their exclusion (60 votes are necessary).
As reported by CNN Capital Hill reporter Lisa Desjardins,

“It is a rare, strange day when Senate Republicans vote to block billions in tax cuts. But that’s what happened Thursday when they chose to freeze a massive tax credit package in order to protest how Democrats are running the chamber.”

Republican Senate leaders, of course, express a very different view of the situation. Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said on the floor,

“This is bigger than any one bill. What (Democrats are) doing is muzzling the people of this country, a gag order on the people we were sent here to represent.”

Paul Suplizio of the WOTC Coalition reports this morning, however, that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (Dem of Oregon) and Ranking Committee Member Orin Hatch (Rep of Utah) are working together to broker amendments.

“Finance Chairman Ron Wyden and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch are committed to working together with other senators who are proposing amendments, and accommodating them if possible. Wyden and Hatch are energetic and respected by their colleagues so we have reason to be optimistic; both made floor statements agreeing to work together to get the extenders back on track.”

Frequently, amendments can be resolved without a floor vote, for example, by promising a vote on another bill. Wyden and Hatch aim to produce a short list of amendments to be voted on, which will then be cleared with Senator Reid and Senator McConnell.

It remains uncertain how long it will take Wyden and Hatch to deal with around a hundred amendments, but the process can move quickly if senators cooperate. We have the top leaders and two of the smartest minds in the Senate tackling this problem—we must give them a chance.

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