This week the Senate is dealing with S. Con. Res. 11. "An original concurrent resolution setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2016 and setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2017 through 2025." This annual exercise is nicknamed a “vote-a-rama,” with members permitted to offer as many amendments as they like on pretty much any topic, so long as they append the magic words at the end of every amendment: “provided that such legislation would not increase the deficit over either the period of the total of fiscal years 2016 through 2020 or the period of the total of fiscal years 2016 through 2025.”
In past years, we have not seen a lot of Middle East provisions offered to the annual budget resolution – possibly because Senators prefer to attach Middle East-related amendments to binding, must-pass legislation like the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, or the Defense Authorization bill; or because there were stricter rules governing amendments; or just maybe because at no time in recent memory has the Senate (or some of its members) behaved in such a reckless and at times nutty-as-a squirrel-turd manner as is the case today.
In this context, it comes as no surprise to see lots of Middle East-related amendments being offered to S. Con. Res. 11. Below is a summary of these amendments – it will be updated if more are submitted. It should be kept in mind that some/most/all of these may never be voted on and that in any case, they are non-binding; however, they are important nonetheless as statements of congressional intent and as efforts to corner members into taking a more consequential vote on binding legislation later.