Senate Democrats are pushing for votes on paid sick leave, same-sex benefits and other issues that were included as amendments to the budget that passed last month.
In a letter Friday to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), nine lawmakers said they are willing to cooperate to get floor votes.
“We would like to assure you that we stand ready to work with you to bring real legislation separate from the budget to the floor for an up-or-down vote,” wrote Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Bob Casey Jr. (Pa.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii) and Al Franken (Minn.).
The Democrats want votes on paid sick leave, curbing employment discrimination for pregnant workers, giving same-sex couples access to Social Security and Veterans Affairs Department benefits, and cutting taxes for the middle class.
Senators voted to include amendments on each topic in the budget, but those votes are nonbinding. The Democrats, acknowledging that the budget votes have no impact, said they believed these issues were important to highlight.
“Too often, the budget vote-a-rama is characterized as a partisan exercise that leaves no lasting policy impact. Working with you, we hope to make this Budget vote-a-rama different,” the nine senators wrote. “While we strongly oppose the underlying Senate Republican budget and the negative impacts it would have on middle-class and working families, we believe the following four amendments represent policies that deserve a vote in this Congress.”
The nine Democrats, in the letter, want McConnell to “publicly announce a timetable” for when the Senate would vote on the four issues.