Senate Republicans say there could be a thaw this year in the chamber’s frosty interparty relations if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid begins to loosen his iron grip on floor amendments.
“I’m very optimistic,” Susan Collins told CQ Roll Call after the Senate passed a bipartisan flood insurance bill. “I think we’ve had a good beginning, and, as long as Sen. Reid agrees to open up the amendment process, I’m optimistic that we can get we can actually get a lot done.”
The Maine Republican has been talking to Democrats about extending unemployment insurance benefits and there certainly is no shortage of other modest agenda items that could find their way through the Senate this year — or end up as partisan chum for the election.
“I think today was a good step in the right direction,” Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt said on Jan. 30, before final passage on flood insurance. “We didn’t have the unfettered amendment process that the Senate traditionally has had. But we had amendments and we just about doubled the Republican votes on amendments from July to today.”
South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham also suggested the flood bill agreement could be a sign of things to come. “Whether it’s an aberration or not, time will tell. But yes, something to celebrate.”
There’s a bigger celebration expected this week, as the Senate acts to clear the long-awaited, nearly $1 trillion farm bill, much of which is for nutrition programs including food stamps.