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Senate Dems pass first budget proposal in 4 years

By Doug Powers  •  March 23, 2013 11:14 AM

**Written by Doug Powers

The term “pre dawn” should only be used to describe two things: Raids and Tony Orlando’s early years. When “pre dawn” is used in reference to the time of day Congress acted, especially heading into a weekend, it probably means potential bad news for the rest of us. That said, at about 5 o’clock this morning — pre dawn — the Senate passed its first budget in four years. Maybe the “no budget no pay” bill did the trick, or maybe Dems decided it’s well past time to raise taxes again. The voting was first and foremost affected by positioning for 2014:

The Senate early Saturday passed its first budget in four years by a vote of 50 to 49.

The close vote was a big victory for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who had to overcome large differences within their caucus to push the resolution through.

Centrist Sens. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.) were all non-committal up until the end.

Baucus, Begich, Hagan and Pryor joined the entire GOP caucus in voting against the budget resolution. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) missed the vote.

All the Democratic senators who voted “no” are up for reelection in 2014 in states that voted for GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

No Republicans voted for the Dem budget. An amendment in favor of constructing the Keystone Pipeline was approved by 62 senators, including 17 Democrats.

Republicans were quick to respond to the budget proposal passage:

In a statement released at 5 a.m. today, Senator Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, blasts the budget the Senate passed very early this morning. Sessions’s main concern is that the budget “has zero real deficit reduction” and “never balances.”

“The content of the plan the majority has now approved demonstrates why they were unwilling to reveal it for so long: their proposal, once accurately understood, cannot be publicly defended,” says Sessions.

Which leads us back to “pre dawn.”

The Murray budget that passed was the usual Democrat definition of “balanced”: $1 trillion dollars in tax increases now combined with “cuts” (read: “miniscule decrease in the rate of spending increase”) set to kick in when the sun becomes a red giant and consumes the earth before cooling into a white dwarf — granted that’s an “earliest case” scenario for actual budget cuts ever taking effect.

The budget the Senate just passed sets a quadrennial snail’s pace precedent that shouldn’t be too difficult for Harry Reid’s successors to live up to — that is if he does indeed have successors. Reid might just stick around many more years until forced to retire (see the “red giant” event in the preceding paragraph).

What happens to the budget now? Chances are House Republicans will ask to borrow Joe Biden’s shotgun as soon as it arrives:

It now goes to the House, where it is expected to be shot down. Senators recently voted down a budget proposal passed by the Republican-controlled house.
Authored by Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Washington, the proposal increases government spending — including repealing the automatic spending cuts required by sequestration — and raises taxes on the wealthy.

While it reduces the deficit over 10 years, it stands in sharp contrast to the House budget proposal, written by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, that passed the House Wednesday. The Ryan plan slashes trillions of dollars from government accounts and balances the budget in just 10 years.

On a final note, in the continuing effort to help save Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s staff from malnourishment, I do hope that the Senate saw fit to take some of this spread over the DWS’s office as a donation:

By 6:30 in the evening, the second floor of the Capitol smelled of barbeque. A buffet was dished out in McConnell’s office, as Republican senators traipsed back and forth from the floor holding paper plates piled high with meat, cornbread, baked beans and salad.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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