The Senate will consider S.1323, "To express the sense of the Senate on shared sacrifice in resolving the budget deficit" until 10 am, at which point the Senate will vote on whether to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the bill. Below, we'll tell you what the bill says, why we think it won't pass, and why it's important.
What Does It Say?
The most important line is: "It is the sense of the Senate that any agreement to reduce the budget deficit should require that those earning $1,000,000 or more per year make a more meaningful contribution to the deficit reduction effort." This basically means that those who vote for it think taxes on people earning a million dollars or more per year should be on the table to help reduce the deficit.
Will It Pass?
At this point, we're pretty sure it won't pass. This is a bill designed to draw the battle lines in the budget debate. Republicans are not likely to vote for any position that might commit them to increase taxes, especially on the wealthy. At the minimum, this bill needs at least 7 Republicans and all 53 Democrats to vote in the affirmative to even proceed to consideration.
In the long run, this is a political no-win for Republicans. If the Republicans unite and defeat this bill, Democrats will be able to portray Republicans as in the pocket of millionaires when it comes to economy and deficit reduction. If some Republicans do vote with Democrats for the bill, the Democrats can hold those Republicans to their positions on a future vote or budget negotiation.
When the Senate votes this morning, they will not be voting - or even considering - the actual bill. Instead, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made a motion to proceed to its consideration, which is a debatable motion. Therefore, opponents could conceivably filibuster the motion to proceed to the bill itself before the actual consideration of the bill started. To end debate on the motion to proceed, Senator Reid filed a cloture motion, which sets a timetable to end debate if agreed to. But, since the bill may not move any further, today's vote on the cloture motion is basically a vote on the measure itself.
Further, the designation "S.1323" makes it clear that this is a bill. In the Senate, bills and joint resolutions are procedurally distinct from simple and concurrent resolutions (a simple resolution might be designated S.Res.1323). Since S.1323 only expresses the "sense of the Senate" and isn't legislative in character, it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect it to take the form of a simple or concurrent resolution. However, it is easier to move a bill or joint resolution under opposition than a resolution for reasons we won't discuss here (unless you ask us in the comments section or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org). That is surely the reason Senator Reid put the sense of the Senate statement in the form of a bill.
We will post vote results when they become available. Find the floor schedule for this bill here: http://ow.ly/5yAoN
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