Senate News Briefing:
ABC News reports, “The Senate today passed a stop-gap spending bill to avert a government shutdown at week’s end and buy lawmakers two more weeks to reach a long-term funding deal . . . . The Senate voted 91-9 to pass the two-week extension that would cut $4 billion in funding. The bill now goes to the White House for President Obama’s signature.
“Republicans touted the bill’s passage as a victory after Democrats ultimately relented in their efforts to pass a short-term bill with no cuts at all. ‘This is a long-awaited acknowledgement by Democrats in Congress that we have a spending problem around here,’ the Senate’s top Republican Mitch McConnell said on the chamber floor this morning. ‘It’s hard to believe when we’re spending $1.6 trillion more than we’re taking in a single year, that it would take this long to cut a penny in spending, but it’s progress nonetheless.’”
Indeed, today’s vote is certainly progress from last week, when Senate Democrat leaders trashed the very CR the Senate passed this morning, as the Washington Examiner’s Mark Tapscott points out today. Majority Leader Harry Reid’s spokesman called the bill cutting $4 billion “reckless,” and Majority Whip Dick Durbin said the proposal contained “irresponsible cuts” and that House Republicans “seem more interested in shutting down the government.” However, both Reid and Durbin voted to pass the bill today.
Passage of this short-term CR is a step in the right direction and a shift from spending ever more money that we don’t have to expand the size of government.
Unfortunately, in their press conference following passage of the short-term bill, Senate Democrats doubled down in their opposition to House Republicans’ bill to keep the government running for the rest of this fiscal year while cutting $61 billion in spending. Democrats just don’t seem to want to make the serious cuts needed to get government spending under control. According to The Washington Post, “Durbin told reporters after the vote that he was so personally opposed to some of the cuts that he planned to filibuster them if they reached the Senate, although he did elaborate on which specific cuts he would try to block. ‘I will tell you something. It’s only going to speak personally, not for the caucus: some of the cuts that they have put in this budget I will never vote for; I will filibuster,’ Durbin said. ‘I just think they’re an outrage, some of the things that they’re doing with education and in research and science, I just think are awful. I mean, they literally took a hacksaw for brain surgery, as far as I’m concerned.’”
Even though Americans sent a clear message to Washington that the status quo of more government spending and ever higher debt and deficits is no longer acceptable, Democrats in Congress continue to oppose deeper spending cuts. As Leader McConnell said this morning, “We’ve got to stop spending money that we don’t have on more government, and calling it progress. Democrats have tried that. They’ve borrowed three trillion dollars over the past two years to expand the size and scope of government, and what’s it gotten us? Three million more lost jobs. So we’ve made some progress this week — a very small step, perhaps, but one in the right direction.”
Will Democrats join Republicans in getting our fiscal house in order, or will they continue to support the status quo of the last two years of spending more and more money we don’t have?