Hillary Clinton isn't formally running for president yet, but her eventual campaign and its allies will have plenty to mine from this week's Senate budget votes.
Thursday brought a vote on raising the minimum wage, a polling winner that GOP White House hopefuls Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Lindsey Graham voted against. Sen. Bernie Sanders' failed amendment backed a "substantial increase" in the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, and Clinton's allies have emphasized her work in support of higher wages.
Elsewhere, the Senate approved an amendment backing paid sick leave for workers, but those four 2016 contenders were among 39 Republicans who opposed the amendment. But a number of Republicans facing 2016 reelection fights in purple states—including New Hampshire's Kelly Ayotte and Wisconsin's Ron Johnson—supported it.
Of course, Republicans offered their own massive slate of amendments, many of them designed to back Democrats into a corner with tough votes. But the GOP can't use the votes to get to Clinton, the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic nomination.
Another Thursday vote tackled a topic Clinton also has highlighted: Pell Grants. The Senate rejected Sen. Al Franken's amendment to undo what Democrats call steep proposed cuts to the college aid program (Republicans say their budget would restore Congress's proper role in deciding funding for the grants). Paul, Rubio, Cruz, and Graham voted against the Democratic amendment to add $90 billion over a decade to the program.
On Wednesday, the GOP-led Senate scuttled Sen. Michael Bennet's amendment against future efforts to privatize Medicare or cut guaranteed benefits. Nearly every Republican voted against it—including Paul, Rubio, and Graham. (Ted Cruz, the first Republican to formally jump into the race, was absent from Wednesday's votes.)
A Wednesday vote saw the Senate reject a Democratic amendment on "protecting Americans from the impacts of human-induced climate change, which may include action on policies that reduce emissions by the amounts that the scientific community says are needed to avert catastrophic climate change."
Graham supported it. Rubio and Paul opposed it.
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