— Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiBlack Caucus demands Flint funding from GOP GOP puts shutdown squeeze play on Dems Overnight Finance: McConnell offers 'clean' funding bill | Dems pan proposal | Flint aid, internet measure not included | More heat for Wells Fargo | New concerns on investor visas MORE (D-Md.), to boost funding to enforce equal pay policies,
— Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteSenate rivals gear up for debates WATCH LIVE: Warren campaigns for Clinton in NH Green group endorses in key Senate races MORE (R-N.H.), to prevent new tax increases when unemployment is higher than 5.5 percent,
— Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzTrump enters new debate frontier Pence offers Cruz 'heartfelt thanks' for Trump endorsement Cruz: Trump hasn't apologized for personal insults MORE (R-Texas), to repeal the 2010 healthcare law,
— Sen. Patty MurrayPatty MurrayDems call for better birth control access for female troops US wins aerospace subsidies trade case over the EU Senate Dems unveil new public option push for ObamaCare MORE (D-Wash.), to provide tax relief for low- and middle-income families,
— Sen. Mike CrapoMike CrapoLawmakers play catch-up as smartphone banking surges Senate panel approves pension rescue for coal miners Bank lobbyists counting down to Shelby’s exit 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.