Vote-a-rama mania hits the Senate

Washington CNN —  

Senators are slogging through a grueling and exhausting day as they cast scores of back-to-back votes on amendments during the annual budget vote-a-rama, which could last until the wee hours of Friday morning before there is a final vote on the bill.

“Don’t go out and have a beer before late-night votes. It makes you go to sleep,” Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, quipped when asked about how to survive the session that could last 12 to 16 hours.

“I brought my shoes with the big cushion soles instead of the leather soles,” Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, another veteran of the night, said with a knowing smile.

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Senators are tethered to the floor while a new vote is called every 20 minutes or so, huddling with staffers, constituents, lobbyists and others as meetings move from Senate offices to makeshift gatherings in the Capitol.

Though the underlying budget bill — and the amendments that pass — will never become law, the votes are aimed at scoring political points. But if the budget passes, it sets important spending parameters for the committees that approve agency funding levels.