10 Terrible Amendments Offered Today by Senators
The Senate has been debating the Democratic budget for the past few days. One of the quirks of Senate rules means that the amendment process on the budget is completely open, allowing senators to file and request a vote on an unlimited number of amendments. They don’t even have to say what their amendments are in advance, but many still choose to file them in advance.
Since the process is so open, a rarity in the gridlocked Senate, senators often use this opportunity to file highly political message amendments. We sifted through the more than 400 amendments filed and found dozens that are terrible, ridiculous, nonsensical, damaging, or just plain crazy. Here’s a look at ten of those proposals.
- BOSS IN YOUR BEDROOM: Sens. Fischer (R-NE), Cruz (R-TX), Johanns (R-NE), and Enzi (R-WY) introduced an amendment to put your boss in your bedroom by allowing them to deny you birth control coverage based on their beliefs, not yours. This is just one of numerous anti-Obamacare amendments offered by Republicans. Incidentally, the law turns three tomorrow. 42 GOP senators and 2 Democrats voted for this amendment.
- NRA-FUELED CONSPIRACY THEORIES: Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) offered an amendment that would prevent the U.S. from signing on to the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty. The NRA and other right-wing groups falsely claim that this is some backdoor gun grab, which led the Senate to fail to ratify the treaty last year. The NRA is currently making a full court press to kill or at least gut the treaty. Sen. Vitter (R-LA) offered a similar amendment that would prohibit the U.N. from registering or taxing Americans’ guns, something the organization obviously has no plans to do.
- HOUSE GOP BUDGET: While Republicans found time to cook up hundreds of other amendments, it seems no Republican senator wanted to vote on the House GOP budget as a substitute for the Senate Democratic plan. When Democrats offered the draconian Ryan plan that ends Medicare and raises taxes on the middle class in order to slash them on the wealthy, a measly 40 GOP senators voted for the plan from their counterparts in the House. Three GOP senators, however, voted against it because it wasn’t extreme enough.
- GIVEAWAY TENS OF BILLIONS TO WALL STREET BANKS: In the same so-called “reconciliation” bill that was necessary to finish passing Obamacare was a provision that stopped routing federal student loans through the big banks. Previously, the banks acted as a middleman between the federal government and borrowers, reaping billions in fees each year even though they bore no risk because the government was the one guaranteeing the loans. The banks role was eliminated in 2010 and the money was shifted to Pell grants. Earlier today, Republicans put forward an amendment to repeal all of the Obamacare bill, including the student loan reforms. This would literally take money away from students and hand it over to the Wall Street banks. 45 Republicans backed this proposal, which also was the third time this week that GOP senators forced a vote on repealing Obamacare.
- OBAMAPHONE: One of the more racially-charged moments in last year’s presidential campaign came when Republican groups promoted a video of an African-American woman proclaiming her support for Obama because, she said, the government was giving out free cell phones, among other things. The Drudge Report and other right-wing media immediately dubbed this the “Obamaphone” controversy. As it turned out, the FCC’s Lifeline program offering free cell phones to low-income Americans began under President George W. Bush and is based on a Reagan-era program to provide low-income Americans with subsidized telephone service. Sen. Coburn (R-OK) offered an amendment to “reform” or, more likely, eliminate, this otherwise obscure program that is important to low-income Americans.
- MITT ROMNEY’S TAX PLAN: The Democratic plan raises close to $1 TRILLION in revenue just by closing loopholes that benefit the wealthy and corporate special interests like Big Oil. Republicans wanted to replace this with revenue-neutral tax reform that used the money to pay for huge new tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations instead of using it to reduce the deficit. This is almost identical to the Romney-Ryan tax plan that raised middle class taxes and which voters soundly rejected last year. All 45 GOP senators voted for this recycled Romney plan, which Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) also included in this year’s House GOP budget.
- KILL WIND JOBS, SEND CLEAN ENERGY INDUSTRY TO CHINA: Sen. Alexander (R-TN) wants to repeal the vital tax credits for wind power, just as Mitt Romney proposed last year. This would kill 37,000 jobs more or less immediately and effectively cede the clean energy industry to China and our other foreign competitors.
- LEAVE THE UN: Sen. Paul (R-KY) proposed one measure to save a very small amount of money: withdraw from the United Nations.
- RACE-BAITING WELFARE LIES: You may remember that Mitt Romney and other Republicans advanced the outright lie that President Obama “removed the work requirement from welfare.” This was categorically untrue, but that didn’t stop Republicans from airing millions of dollars in ads about it. In any case, the GOP campaign of distortion around the amendment has resulted in no states taking advantage of the flexibility requested by some Republican governors that the Obama administration offered to grant. Nevertheless, Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) is still so concerned that he offered an amendment to address the non-existent problem of the work requirement having been removed from welfare. For good measure, he offered a second mean-spirited amendment that mandates drug testing for welfare recipients.
- CREATE A PERMANENT IMMIGRANT UNDERCLASS: Sen. Sessions (R-AR), who has faced charges of racial prejudice in the past and was once denied a seat on the federal bench as a result, put forward a proposal to bar even those immigrants who receive legal status from receiving numerous tax breaks directed at the working poor. This would even prevent immigrants from receiving tax breaks that they are claiming on behalf of their American citizen children.
These are just a few of the dozens of terrible proposals put forward today by Republican senators.