Around Capitol Hill — H.R. 1105 Amendments and DC Representation Stall

Today was a rough day for getting anything passed on Capitol Hill, it appears. The Senate continued its consideration of H.R. 1105 (the omnibus appropriations bill) and voted down several attempts at modifying it.

The big one was S.AMDT 592, which was offered by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). In effect, the amendment would have transformed the appropriations bill into a continuing. As a result, current funding levels for all programs would remain unchanged.

The amendment failed 32-63. The margin is a dire portent for further attempts to modify the bill or reduce funding in other ways. The 32 yeas included just two Democrats, Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Sen. Evan Bayh (Ind.), while the 63 nays saw eight Republicans join 55 Democrats. 

In a similar vein, Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) offered a motion to send the bill back to committee with instructions to slash all funding down to current levels. That one did only slightly better than McCain's amendment, failing 33-61.

The third try was not the charm for Republicans either. Sen. Kay Hutchison (R-Texas) motioned to send the bill back to committee with instructions to trim funding down to current levels adjusted for inflation. It failed 40-55 in the final roll call vote today.

After the jump, a collection of Coburn amendments and DC representation stalls in the House.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) also took the floor to discuss four amendments he was proposing. S.AMDT 596 would require all projects funded by the bill to have competitive bidding for contracts. At this point, it is unclear whether this would effectively cripple many earmarks, which by their nature circumvent the competitive bidding process.

 608 would force the Department of Justice to allocate $10 million to the implementation of the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil RIghts Crime Act. Coburn argued Congress had failed to provide funding for the act in this year's appropriation. 

S.AMDT #623 would eliminate all earmarks given to clients of the PMA Group, a defense lobbying outfit that is under investigation by the FBI for allegedly funneling donations in a manner that violates federal law.

S.AMDT#610 strikes funding for 11 earmarks Coburn deems "silly," which include "swine odor and manure management research" and "the Pleasure Beach Water Taxi Service."

We'll let you know if any of these pass.

Meanwhile, in other the other half of the legislature, another bill ran into a rough spot.

The Hill is reporting the House will not consider S.160, which would grant Washington, D.C. one representative, on Wednesday due to Republican attempts to repeal district gun laws. When the bill was in the Senate, Republicans attracted the support of centrist Democrats and inserted a provision that overturned the district's restrictive gun licensing requirements.

The Hill article says Democratic leadership fears centrist House Democrats will also support such an amendment. If anti-gun-law language appears in bother the House and Senate versions of the bill, it will be difficult to remove in conference.

Are the Republicans going to be able to force changes on the omnibus appropriations bill? Will the DC Voting Rights Act come up for a vote this week? Tell us what you think.