A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 29, 2017
Vote-a-rama (Vote-a-thon)

The term “vote-a-rama” (vote + -arama) was popularized in the U.S. Senate in the 1990s. When the Senate considers its annual budget resolution, all amendments must be voted on, and there cannot be a filibuster. Keith Hennessey, who served as a staffer for Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-NM) and for Senate Majority (& Minority) Leader Trent Lott (R-MS), explained the term in 2010 and called it “one of my few lasting contributions.”

The Dow Jones News Service reported on May 24, 1995:

“Most of the amendments are expected to be defeated, but not before what one Senate staffer described as the annual budget ‘vote-a-rama.’”

“Vote-a-thon” was cited in print on May 23, 1996, when it was used by U.S. Senator Tom Daschle (a Democrat from South Dakota). In 1998, U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (a Democrat from New Jersey) said, “whether it is a ‘vote-a-thon,’ ‘vote-a-rama,’ ‘rapid fire,’ or whatever you want to call it.” The term “vote-a-rama” is the one of the three that was popularized.

“Vote-a-rama”—in other voting contexts—has been cited in print since at least 1956. “Vote-o-rama” was used in The New Yorker on July 27, 2017, but has been less frequently used.

[This entry was prepared with research assistance from Ben Zimmer.]


Dictionary.com
-arama
variant of -orama, occurring as the final element in compounds when the first element is a monosyllable, used so that the entire word maintains the same number of syllables as panorama:
foodarama; dancearama.

Taegan Goddard’s Political Dictionary
vote-a-rama
U.S. Senate rules include a special section for consideration of the annual Budget resolution. The Budget is not subject to filibuster, but all amendments must be germane and are voted on consecutively without real debate.

Wikipedia: Keith Hennessey
Keith Hennessey is the former Assistant to the U.S. President for Economic Policy and Director of the U.S. National Economic Council. He was appointed to the position in November 2007 by President George W. Bush, and served until the end of Bush’s second term in office. Mr. Hennessey had served in the White House since August 2002, when he was appointed to the position of Deputy Assistant to the U.S. President for Economic Policy and Deputy Director of the U.S. National Economic Council. He is currently a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

Prior to joining the White House staff, Hennessey worked for Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott from February 1997 to August 2002. While in Senator Lott’s office, he was involved in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 and all budget resolutions since 1997, the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 and all tax legislation since 1998, Trade Promotion Authority, all health legislation, the Transportation Equity Act, FAA authorization bills and many other smaller bills.

31 October 1956, Battle Creek (MI) Enquirer and News, “Voting Aid Fills Need In Galesburg,” sec. 3, pg. 8, col. 6:
GALESBURG—For those who are somewhat confused with casting ballots on the new machines at Galesburg, the Lions Club of Galesburg reports that about 35 persons a night last week sought aid in their vote casting. The Vote-A-Rama sponsored by the Lions was held at the City Hall from 9-12 p.m. to instruct all people in the vicinity on the operation of the voting machines.

1 November 1961, The Morning Call (Allentown, PA), “City Approves Jaycee Plans For Vote-a-Rama,” pg. 15, col. 4:
The Bethlehem Junior Chamber of Commerce yesterday got the green light from City Hall for its “Vote-a-Rama” in the downtown shopping districts tomorrow night. (...)THe campaign is aimed at getting out the vote for next Tuesday’s general election, and to stimulate shopping.

2 November 1966, Pittsburgh (PA) Press, “New Voting Machines On Display,” pg. 43, col. 7:
Demonstrations on the use of the County’s new voting machines are being given at three downtown locations throughout this week as part of “Vote-A-Rama.”

21 March 1977, Linton (IN) Daily Citizen, pg. 5 ad:
VOTE-A-RAMA
(Red and White Food Stores.—ed.)

24 May 1995, Dow Jones News Service:
Senate Begins Marathon Series Of Votes On Budget Amendments
WASHINGTON - DJ—The Senate began a marathon series of votes on amendments to the GOP balanced-budget plan, action that may go on for several hours.

Democratic and GOP leaders said the Senate will vote on up to 31 amendments - and possibly more - on issues ranging from Medicare to veterans programs to oil and gas exploration in currently protected wilderness regions in Alaska.

Most of the amendments are expected to be defeated, but not before what one Senate staffer described as the annual budget “vote-a-rama.”

21 May 1996, Dow Jones News Service:
Lott Sees Senate Vote On GOP $1.6 Trln Budget Tomorrow
WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)—Senate Majority Whip Trent Lott, R-Miss., expects a final vote Wednesday on the GOP-drafted $1.6 trillion budget for fiscal 1997.

The action will come after a “vote-a-rama,” in which the Senate will work through consecutive roll calls on as many as 40 amendments. ‘’It could take eight to 10 hours,’’ said Lott, who has been managing the Senate’s day-to-day operations since Majority Leader Robert Dole, R-Kan., announced his resignation effective June 11.

22 May 1996, CongressDaily/A.M.:
‘Vote-A-Rama’ Ahead As Senate Set To Finish Budget
Following a week of debate, the Senate is expected to finish up the FY97 budget resolution later today after voting on as many as 40 amendments, Republican leaders said Tuesday.

The “vote-a-rama”, a term used by Senate Majority Whip Lott, will begin this morning, and is expected to stretch through most of the day. “We’d like to finish it [today],” said Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman Don Nickles of Oklahoma.

UPI
Senate races, but budget still lingers
May 22, 1996
WASHINGTON, May 22—The Senate raced through more than two dozen votes Wednesday on the GOP’s ambitious 1997 budget plan—a massive and time consuming undertaking for the 100-member chamber—but more work remained.
(...)
Senate GOP Whip Trent Lott, R-Miss., who has dubbed the frantic work a ‘vote-a-rama,’ said that the failure of the Senate to complete work earlier would almost certainly push off until after Memorial Day Senate consideration of a House-passed bill to repeal a 4.3-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax.

23 May 1996, Pantagraph (Bloomington, IL), “U.S. Senate moves toward approval of budget” by Alan Fram (AP), pg. A3:
On Wednesday, the Senate plowed through a stack of about 40 amendments, voting on one after another with just 30 seconds of debate allotted to each side. Daschle called it “a real vote-a-thon,” and lawmakers spent most of their time milling around the unusually crowded chamber or doing paperwork at their desks on the Senate floor.

24 May 1997, Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report (Washington, DC), “Senate does little to change plan despite amendment turmoil” by George Hager, pp. 1185-1187:
..final, hours-long “vote-a-rama” on May 23 let senators vent their frustrations.

29 June 1997, Weekend All Things (NPR, Washington, DC), “Tax Bill”:
ELIZABETH ARNOLD, NPR REPORTER: Well, this past week was what senators call a “vote-a- rama.”
(LAUGHTER)
ARNOLD: There was vote after vote after vote, all day, all night, on amendments. Most of them were rejected. What will happen is that when the two bills are put together into one, the White House will weigh in. There will be a very compressed negotiating period.

Google Groups: gov.us.fed.congress.record.senate
1998CRS2929 CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET FOR THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT FOR FISCAL YEARS, Part 1/4
no...@senate.gov
4/2/98
(...)
Mr. LAUTENBERG. Mr. President, once again, I don’t think we are going to hear any profound speeches in the next few minutes, but at least we ought to know what it is that is going on, because if those amendments are not up there by the witching hour of 6 o’clock, they will not have a chance to get an amendment considered, whether it is a ``vote-a-thon,’’ ``vote-a-rama,’’ ``rapid fire,’’ or whatever you want to call it, or whether there will be a chance for debate. Six o’clock is it. We all turn into pumpkins at that time.

16 June 1998, Inc. (Boston, MA), “Legislator’s agenda” by Sarah Schafer, pg. 33:
BY THE TIME THE DAY’S VOTE-A-RAMA finally ends, it’s already 2:30 p.m. Santorum heads back to his sports-memorabilia-filled office.

20 April 1999, Tax Management Financial Planning Journal (Washington, DC), “House, Senate pass GOP budget proposals,” pg. 107:
Late March 25, after completing what Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) described as a “vote-a-rama,” the Senate voted 55-44 to pass S.Con.Res. 20. This was their last act before leaving for a two-week Easter recess.

30 July 1999, All Things Considered (NPR, Washington, DC), “Analysis: Final Debate and Ultimate Passage of the Senate’s $792 Bill Tax Cut”:
PETER KENYON, NPR REPORTER: Final passage was preceded by what lawmakers call a vote- a-rama. At the end of debate on a long, complicated bill, lawmakers plow through a stack of amendments and substitutes waiting to be disposed of. It’s a process that makes the Senate seem more like an elementary school classroom than the world’s greatest deliberative body, but it is efficient. The Senate dealt with the amendments at a heady clip, accepting only one significant change/

KeithHennessey.com
What is a vote-a-rama?
By Keith Hennessey Thursday, 25 March 2010
I spent 7+ years as a staffer for Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-NM) and for Senate Majority (& Minority) Leader Trent Lott (R-MS). One of my few lasting contributions is the term vote-a-rama. I therefore feel obliged to provide a formal definition.

vote-a-rama: (n) an extended sequence of back-to-back votes in the United States Senate. A side effect of special rules for considering the budget resolution or a reconciliation bill, a vote-a-rama may last 10, 20, 30 hours or more, and occurs after all time for debate has expired but before a vote on final passage.
(...)
Each year the House and the Senate must pass a budget resolution that is a quantitative blueprint for the consideration of legislation in that year. A 1974 law sets out special Senate rules for the consideration of a budget resolution. Unlike normal legislation, which can be debated for weeks on end, this law limits the total debate time for a budget resolution to 50 hours.

This same law limits debate time for a reconciliation bill to 20 hours.

The Atlantic
What on Earth Is a Vote-A-Rama?
The old, weird Senate procedure used to pass budget bills

DAVID A. GRAHAM MAR 22, 2013
(...)
Here’s the story: Sometimes, the Senate holds flurries of votes on budget resolutions. Debate on budget reconciliation bills is limited to 20 hours, and the resolutions can’t be filibustered, so the only way to draw the process out is to offer amendments. This being the Senate, the opposition seldom misses the opportunity to do so. Once debate has ended, the amendments come in rapid fire. There could be literally dozens of amendments (there are often at least 20 or 30), but the time spent on them is minimal. In theory, there’s not even time to debate, though as Keith Hennessey—who has a great primer on the topic—points out, they often waive the rules and allow each side gets a grand total of 30 seconds to debate, followed by a 10-minute vote. Then the next, and the next, and so on until everything is finished and everyone can go home for the night

The Federalist
9 Things You Need To Know About The Coming Obamacare ‘Vote-A-Rama’
The Senate’s consideration of health-care legislation will soon result in a grueling series of votes dubbed ‘vote-a-rama.’ It will be wild.

By Christopher Jacobs
JULY 26, 2017
(...)
1. It’s Physically Demanding
The “vote-a-rama” process during consideration of the 2010 reconciliation bill that “fixed” Obamacare provides an example. On Wednesday, March 24, senators began voting on amendments at 5:32 PM. Nearly nine hours later, at 2:17 on the morning of Thursday, March 25, senators had completed votes on 29 amendments. The Senate then took a brief break, re-convened at 9:45 the same morning, and disposed of a further 12 amendments over an additional four-plus hours, with a vote on final passage at 2 PM on March 25.

For 20-something or 30-something staffers—let alone senators several times their age—this lengthy process can prove grueling, with long hours, late nights, lack of sleep, and little food (or bad food) the norm.

The New Yorker
The Senate Health-Care Vote-O-Rama: A Guide for the Perplexed
By John Cassidy July 27, 2017
Are you confused by what’s happening as the Senate debates various health-care-reform proposals? Join the club. “I read and analyze health legislation for a living. And I’m having trouble keeping up with the big and complicated changes in real time,” Larry Levitt, a senior vice-president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, tweeted on Tuesday night, as a series of votes began. On Wednesday, there were more votes, and there will be still more on Thursday—many, many of them, as the process climaxes in a so-called Vote-O-Rama.

27 July 2017, USA Today, “Vote-a-rama: Here’s what to know about the Senate practice” by Jessica Estepa:
First off: What is a vote-a-rama?

The Senate defines it as 15 or more votes that happen on a piece of legislation in a single day (while vote-a-ramas are often done on budget resolutions, they can be about any piece of legislation, like the health care bill). After the allotted time of debate on a bill expires, any senator can introduce an unlimited number of amendments to a piece of legislation. They then vote on the amendments, marathon-style.  This can go on for hours.

Fritinancy
July 31, 2017
Word of the week: Vote-a-rama
After seven years of Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act – probably the signature legislative accomplishment of President Obama’s first term – and two failed attempts this year by the Republican-majority to repeal and replace the law, U.S. senators prepared to spend most of July 27 in a marathon of voting on amendments to a new “skinny repeal” of the ACA. The showdown they were bracing for has a name that sounds like a joke but in fact is 100 percent official: vote-a-rama.

It even had its own logo.

The Mercury News (San Jose, CA)
The Senate tax bill vote-a-rama: A primer
Here’s how the whole thing will go down. We think.

By PATRICK MAY | | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: November 30, 2017 at 9:29 am | UPDATED: November 30, 2017 at 9:35 am
(...)
What is a vote-a-rama?
According to the Senate’s definition, a vote-a-rama is the lawmaking process during which 15 or more votes take place on a piece of legislation in a single day. They can take place for any type of legislation but are often done during budget-resolution hearings. Once the allotted time for debate on a bill expires, any senator may put forward any number of amendments to that piece of legislation. They then vote on the amendments, marathon-style.

How long can it last?
A vote-a-rama can go on for hours.

Fox News
Senate tax bill approaches ‘vote-a-rama,’ boosted by McCain support
By Alex Pappas
November 30, 2017
The Senate on Thursday moved closer to passing legislation that would overhaul the country’s tax code as lawmakers readied for a so-called “vote-a-rama” on amendments that could last well into the night before a final vote takes place.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Wednesday, November 29, 2017 • Permalink