The Senate defeated five budget proposals offered by Republicans today, as the GOP sought to hammer Democrats for not producing a budget resolution this year and for not putting one on the Senate floor in the previous two years.
“Where in the world is it?” asked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on the floor, adding that Democrats have shirked one of their primary legislative responsibilities — a move he said demonstrates their inability to govern.
“We’ve got a nearly $16 trillion debt, we’re borrowing more than 40 cents of every dollar we spend, entitlements are going broke, millions are out of work and Democrats can’t even put a plan on paper for a vote,” McConnell continued. “What are they doing over there? Isn’t anybody over there embarrassed by the fact that they haven’t offered a budget in three years?”
Democrats said the GOP effort was the latest example of obstruction by Republicans, who have sought to slow the progress of the Senate at every turn.
“It’s almost universally acknowledged that Republican obstructionism has reached new heights in the Senate,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). He added that GOP foot dragging has required Democrats to file cloture even on legislation that ends up passing with overwhelming bipartisan support — a move that needlessly wastes precious floor time.
“Democrats would have to break a filibuster to declare the sky blue or the Earth round,” Reid said. “And passing even the most common-sense, consensus legislation can take weeks or months.”
“So, with a mile-long to-do list, we can’t afford to waste time,” Reid continued. “Yet today Republicans will force the Senate to waste a day on a series of political show votes.”
The Majority Leader argued that Democrats have fulfilled their budget duty by passing the Budget Control Act, the bipartisan deal reached last summer that raised the debt ceiling and deemed discretionary spending levels for fiscal 2013 — the primary function of a budget resolution, which allows the appropriations process to take place.
That measure passed the Senate 74-26, with 28 Republicans voting for it.
“But since August those Republicans have developed a case of amnesia. Why else would they walk around Washington claiming we don’t have a budget?” Reid said.
Republicans contend that the BCA is not a true budget resolution, which typically projects revenue and spending out over between five and 10 years.
The Senate defeated the House budget resolution authored by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), 41-58. The dissenting votes included five Republicans. The House approved the measure in late March on a roughly party line vote, 228-119. The Senate defeated a similar Ryan proposal last year 40-57.
Support for Ryan’s budget, which would overhaul Medicare, opens Senate Republicans up to attacks from Democrats that they want to cut the seniors’ health care program while providing tax cuts for the wealthy.
The Senate also defeated a proposal from Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) which mimics President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget plan. The measure was rejected 0-99, similar to last year when it was defeated 0-97.
Senate Budget Chariman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said the Sessions proposal “is not what the president proposed so” of course Democrats would not support it.
McConnell said the vote was “not surprising when you consider just how bad the president’s budget is. It’s bad for jobs because it includes the biggest tax hike in history, it’s bad for seniors because it lets Medicare and Social Security become insolvent and it’s bad for our economy because it fails to address the nation’s $15 trillion debt.”
Along with the Obama and Ryan budgets, the Senate rejected spending blueprints from Republican Sens. Pat Toomey (Pa.), Mike Lee (Utah) and Rand Paul (Ky.).
The Toomey plan, defeated 42-57, would have balanced the budget by 2020. Lee’s proposal, which would have balanced the budget by 2017, was rejected 17-82, and Paul’s budget, which also would have reached balance by 2017, fell 16-83.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.