Efforts in Congress have begun to undo sequestration because many Republicans in particular believe that the Defense Department cannot absorb its share of the cuts without compromising national security. In order to be successful, the gang of six would likely have to solve that problem as well as the larger deficit issue.
Sen. Bob Corker agreed that the budget votes do not address the deficit problem, given their partisan nature, but he also blamed Senate Democrats for not passing a budget resolution.
“There is no question ... we’d be much better off if we actually had a budget process and it went through committee and came to the floor that way,” the Tennessee Republican said.
“I think it’s really pretty depressing to know that we can’t handle one of the number one responsibilities that we have here in the Senate,” Corker continued.
Republicans have been lashing out at Senate Democrats for not producing a budget resolution for the past two years.
“They’re not doing what they need to do,” said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), also a member of the gang of six.
But Democrats argue that they fulfilled their duty by passing the Budget Control Act, the bipartisan deal that raised the debt ceiling, which also deemed discretionary spending levels for fiscal 2013. The discretionary spending cap is a key function of a budget resolution and allows for a more orderly appropriations process.
“It’s important to stop playing games with whether or not there is a budget and focus on the Budget Control Act,” said Sen. Ben Nelson, a member of the Appropriations Committee.
“For others to be offering budgets right now is just part of Washington silliness that gets involved in presidential politics,” the Nebraska Democrat continued.
The votes today are essentially a replay of last year, when the Obama and Ryan budgets both failed, 0-97 and 40-57, respectively. Similar vote tallies are expected this time around.
With Ryan’s budget, which would overhaul Medicare, a vote in favor of the plan would open up Senate Republicans to attacks from Democrats that they want to cut the program while cutting taxes for the wealthy.
With Obama’s plan, Nelson said he doesn’t expect to vote for it again this year. He said his votes reflect his belief that the president’s proposal is typically the working document that is molded into the budget resolution.
“That’s nothing new because [Obama’s budget] is the starting point, not the ending point,” Nelson said.
Along with the Obama and Ryan budgets, the Senate is expected to vote on budget proposals from Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Mike Lee (R-Utah.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Last year, the Senate voted 42-55 against Toomey’s plan and 7-90 against Paul’s.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.