On potentially packing the U.S. Supreme Court or imposing a future carbon tax, Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen were in full agreement during Thursday night’s ‘Vote-A-Rama.’ They voted yes.
But on giving COVID-19 relief checks to undocumented immigrants, New Hampshire’s two Democrats disagreed: Shaheen, who was just re-elected in November, voted in favor; Hassan, who faces the voters next year, said no.
Coincidence, or something more?
The so-called ‘Vote-A-Rama’ is part of the budget reconciliation process that will allow Democrats to pass President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 package without any negotiations across the aisle or any votes from the GOP. Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote will be enough to pass this massive spending bill.
Republicans used that process to force Democrats like Hassan, one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the 2022 election cycle, to take votes on issues they believe put these senators at odds with their voters back home. “If we’re going to debate this phony partisan budget, we will create some clarity for the American people,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – Ky.) said.
One notable example was the vote on giving COVID-19 relief checks to people who are in the United States illegally. Eight Democrats, including Hassan, broke ranks with their party to vote with the GOP. All eight are in purple or red states.
“Both of New Hampshire’s senators have terrible voting records on immigration,” said Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies. “But only one is up for re-election next year. That’s why Maggie Hassan was one of eight Democrats to join the Republicans yesterday in voting against sending covid relief checks to illegal immigrants. Most Americans take the sensible view that vaccinations for covid should cover everyone, including illegal aliens, even at taxpayer expense. But sending relief checks to people who shouldn’t even be here is a bridge too far for most voters.”
Neither Hassan nor Shaheen will respond to requests for comment on their votes from NHJournal.
The two left-of-center Democrats largely voted in tandem. For example, they both voted against an amendment ensuring states accurately report their nursing home deaths due to COVID-19 and against withholding federal money from public schools that refuse to reopen classrooms even after teachers are vaccinated.
And they both voted against an amendment to help protect the Supreme Court from court-packing schemes to add new justices, an idea popular among Democratic progressives. Thanks to the 50-50 split in the Senate, a vote against court-packing by either New Hampshire Democrat would have been enough to pass the amendment.
Amendments to prohibit a carbon tax and to “establish a spending-neutral reserve fund relating to prohibiting infringement on the free exercise of religion” were both shot down by the Democrat-controlled Senate thanks to 50-50 votes, including Hassan and Shaheen.
Interestingly, they also both voted to kill the $15 mandatory minimum wage in the original Biden plan — a cause both have long claimed to support. The amendment was adopted in a voice vote after a leading supporter of the minimum-wage mandate, socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) announced his support for holding off on the hike.
“I will support this amendment because nobody is talking about doubling the federal minimum wage during the pandemic,” Sanders said.
In a statement released Friday morning, Shaheen praised the “bipartisanship” in a deal Democrats forced through using a legislative loophole that lets them avoid any negotiations with the GOP.
“I’ve been encouraged by the bipartisanship we’ve seen in the Senate to get a deal done and I know that commitment remains. I’ll keep reaching across the aisle to bring lawmakers to the table so together we can fight to the other side of this crisis,” Shaheen said.
Republicans didn’t see it that way. “For them to choose a scorched earth policy undermines the president’s argument for unity,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said Thursday.