“How the Senate Got Its Groove Back With the Power of the Purse”


Against the backdrop of rising partisan rancor over the Supreme Court vacancy, an unlikely bipartisan breakthrough is quietly taking place in the Senate, where the annual spending bills are advancing in a way that hasn’t been seen in years.

While they are at one another’s throats over the nomination of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the court, top Senate Democrats and Republicans are working hand in hand to pass a series of consensus spending bills in the old-school fashion of putting them on the floor, allowing amendments to be considered and then passing the measures and sending them into future negotiations with the House.

That may sound like the way things are supposed to be done, but the polarized Senate has been unable to perform this most basic function for a considerable time. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and majority leader, noted that it had been 15 years since the Senate had passed the sweeping labor, health and education spending bill it was now considering before the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1.

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