Senate Democrats may allow a vote on an amendment from Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who opposed the bill the first time around and gave other Republicans their claims about “an unrelated $400 billion spending spree that has nothing to do with veterans.” Toomey’s claim was false: In the words of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, “This bill is 100% dedicated to healthcare and benefits for toxic exposed veterans. Any inferences or accusations to the contrary are untrue.” But it predated the temper tantrum over the climate deal.
PBS NewsHour correspondent Lisa Desjardins tweeted that Republican sources told her some number of Republican senators “were convinced by Sen. Pat Toomey that there was a substantive issue – and he was on the chamber floor about to announce that when Manchin/Schumer deal came out,” but “I also have GOP sources admitted that at least some vote switches were out of retaliation, that the felt Schumer had deceived them.”
Since 25 Republicans switched their votes, and the veterans bill fell five votes short of the 60 needed to get past a filibuster, if 1 in 5 of the votes switched as a result of the temper tantrum over the reconciliation deal with Manchin, that would have sunk the bill. And just 1 in 5 would be giving Toomey a lot of credit for persuasiveness.
On top of that, the video of Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Steve Daines fist-bumping after Daines’ vote against the bill does not show two people sorrowful that they had to vote down aid for veterans out of a deep concern that unrelated spending was included in the bill. It shows a “boy, we showed them” moment of celebration.
And this is why Republicans have had such a bad week. They transparently voted down a bill to help veterans that they had recently participated in passing, and they were seen. They were called out. Now, with everyone watching, they’re going to have to decide how to vote. And they’re making clear that they’re going to get it passed.
”If I get a chance to vote for an amendment I might vote for the amendment, but I want to make sure the bill doesn’t get killed,” Sen. Chuck Grassley said. Sen. John Thune echoed McConnell’s prediction, saying at “some point this is going to pass and it will pass big.”
This is what it looks like when Democrats don’t let Republicans off the hook for their votes on a bill of interest to a lot of people. This is exactly why Democrats need to just hold a vote on marriage equality rather than letting Republicans drag out the process.