Other amendments dealt with a range of social and economic issues from raising or slashing taxes, preserving insurance coverage for contraception, hiring veterans, endorsing the Keystone XL pipeline, repealing "Obamacare," and prohibiting illegal immigrants from being eligible for Medicaid and Affordable Health Care Act benefits.
The Keystone amendment, offered by Senators John Hoeven, R-North Dakota, and Max Baucus, D-Montana, passed by a vote of 62 to 37. Though non-binding, the measure establishes the Senate's official support of the controversial project, and is symbolically important as President Obama weighs his decision on whether to approve construction of the pipeline. He is expected to make a final decision sometime this summer.
The Senate also passed -- by a vote of 99 to 0 -- an amendment put forth by Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, to end so-called "Too Big To Fail" financial advantages for megabanks, defined as any bank that has more that $500 billion in total assets.
"This amendment is very simple. It says we should do away with the federal policies that create that subsidy, that uneven playing field," Vitter said. "It doesn't say it would forcibly break up the banks, it doesn't say we would tax them. It just says that."
This year, senators had an extra personal incentive to pass a budget plan. That's because of a new "no budget, no pay" provision that says if a budget is not passed by April 15, senators' salaries will be held in escrow until a budget is approved.
That threat is now off the table, though an amendment asking all Senators to donate 20 percent of their own salaries to a charity of their choice did pass by a voice vote.
Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham offered the measure so that Senators "would feel what other people are feeling because of the sequestration."
Lawmakers' salaries were not affected by the forced spending cuts that took effect on March 1, because the Constitution requires a new law to be passed in order to alter congressional compensation. Graham's amendment establishes a deficit-neutral reserve fund to broaden the effects of the spending cuts.