Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Cliff Owen/AP File Photo

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How a 'Vote-a-rama' Could Be the Key to Funding Government

Senators hope the old procedure can help them pass a new budget.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is getting ready for a vote-a-rama this week. That sounds like an old, tired SNL skit, but don't be fooled -- it's actually an old, tired Senate trick.

Well, not that tired. Here's the story: Sometimes, the Senate holds flurries of votes on budget resolutions. Debate on budget reconciliation bills is limited to 20 hours, and the resolutions can't be filibustered, so the only way to draw the process out is to offer amendments. This being the Senate, the opposition seldom misses the opportunity to do so. Once debate has ended, the amendments come in rapid fire. There could be literally dozens of amendments (there are often at least 20 or 30), but the time spent on them is minimal. In theory, there's not even time to debate, though as Keith Hennessey -- who has a great primer on the topic -- points out, they often waive the rules and allow each side gets a grand total of 30 seconds to debate, followed by a 10-minute vote. Then the next, and the next, and so on until everything is finished and everyone can go home for the night.

Read more at The Atlantic