— Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiOvernight Energy: Senate panel approves EPA spending, rules bill Senate panel breaks with House on cuts to IRS Dems propose to boost DOJ funding by M MORE (D-Md.), to boost funding to enforce equal pay policies,
— Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteMcConnell quashes Senate effort on guns Republicans blast latest Gitmo transfer Bipartisan gun measure survives test vote MORE (R-N.H.), to prevent new tax increases when unemployment is higher than 5.5 percent,
— Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzOur most toxic export: American politick 'Never Trump' group ad compares Trump to Reagan Anti-Trump delegates pitch convention rule change to RNC MORE (R-Texas), to repeal the 2010 healthcare law,
— Sen. Patty MurrayPatty MurraySenate Dems link court fight to Congressional Baseball Game Reid: House-passed Zika deal a 'disgrace' Bernie Sanders’s awkward return to the Senate MORE (D-Wash.), to provide tax relief for low- and middle-income families,
— Sen. Mike CrapoMike CrapoPost Orlando, hawks make a power play Overnight Cybersecurity: Senate narrowly rejects expanding FBI surveillance powers Senate narrowly rejects new FBI surveillance MORE (R-Idaho), to repeal the tax increases in the 2010 healthcare law, and
— Sen. Jean Shaheen (D-N.H.), to ensure the protection of women's access to healthcare.
By 3 p.m., the Senate is expected to start a massive series of votes, as unlimited amendments are allowed on the budget resolution. As of late Thursday, there was no estimate for an end to this process, which has been branded with the unfortunate name "vote-a-rama."
It's expected to drift well into early Saturday morning — the end of it may simply depend on how tired senators get.
While the votes are potentially interesting, they are votes to add language to a non-binding budget resolution. Making them even less useful, approved amendments will become part of a budget plan that seems unlikely to be reconciled with the House-passed budget.
The House-passed budget slows the growth of spending, cuts taxes and balances in 10 years, while the Senate plan calls for $1 trillion in new taxes and never balances. It's difficult to imagine how to reconcile these two plans, and there are no outward signs so far that the House and Senate will even try.
At the same time, some of the amendment votes may send some interesting signals about the willingness of the Senate to make policy changes. For example, the Senate on Thursday voted 79-20 in favor of language that would end the 2.3 percent medical device tax — a sign that the Senate opposes the tax, even though it remains unclear how aggressively the Senate will push for a binding vote against it.
The House finished its work on Thursday by passing the GOP budget plan and the 2013 continuing resolution, and is now out for the next two weeks.