WASHINGTON – Can a bill be un-passed? The answer in the Senate is yes.
It was an uncommon occurrence on Monday when several bills passed by voice vote, including legislation to crack down on money laundering and terrorist financing, but were then taken back 30 minutes later.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., went to the floor just after 3 p.m. to pass the bills, including the terrorist financing legislation, a bill that would allow the Department of Defense to lease unused office space at arsenals and several other bills to name post offices. Voice votes on non-controversial bills are common in the Senate, especially as the chamber plans to wrap up its two-year session this week.
But at 3:39 p.m., Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, stood on the Senate floor and asked to "vitiate" passage.
"I'm sorry," Hatch told the Senate's presiding officer, but offered no other explanation.
A spokesman for McConnell said Democrats had an objection on their side, meaning there wasn't the unanimous consent needed for a voice vote.
Senators from coal states issued a news release around the same time saying they would block all attempts to pass legislation by unanimous consent until the Senate backs a bill to protect health care and pension benefits for about 120,000 retired coal miners and their families.
"These miners cannot wait another day and it's up to us to protect what they've earned for a lifetime of dangerous, backbreaking work," said Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Mark Warner of Virginia in the release.