Budget Bill Heads Toward Senate Approval

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Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) speaks while flanked by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (2nd-L), U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) (L) and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) (R), during a news conference on Capitol Hill, on December 12, 2013 in Washington, DC.

The Senate is poised to pass a new bipartisan budget agreement after the measure cleared a procedural hurdle on Tuesday morning.

Lawmakers in the upper chamber voted 67-33 to cut off debate on the budget bill crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). All Senate Democrats voted to move forward, and 12 Republicans joined them. Final passage is almost certain, with a vote expected by Wednesday. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill.

The bill would set spending levels for the next two years and undo some of the automatic spending cuts mandated by so-called “sequestration,” while removing the threat of a government shutdown and perhaps even putting a stop to the cycle of budget brinksmanship that has defined Congress the last few years.

The House passed the bill last week with the vast majority of Republicans and Democrats.

On the Senate floor, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) asked the desk counting the vote, “How many we got?” After a few minutes with the tally well past the necessary 60 votes, Schumer said, “I’m going to make Christmas dinner for everyone!”

“Chuck Schumer ham,” he announced, surrounded by Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Murray.

The budget deal replaces about $63 billion in across-the-board sequestration cuts to establish “top-line” appropriation numbers for 2014 and 2015 between $1.012 trillion and $1.016 trillion. The last time Congress adopted a budget resolution was in 2009.

26 comments
TerryClifton02
TerryClifton02

Dear Vets and Wounded Warriors,


We sent you in harms way to further expand our imperialist goals of turning the Middle East into a Democracy, into Vietnam and Korea to fight the Communists, and also those who served their country from Pearl Harbor to Normandy during WW2, and for those who served during peace time home and abroad: We the Senate Democrats want to thank you so very much that we are going to be cutting your future pay. Now it's true we could have found the money elsewhere in the this massive budget, but hey illegals getting a tax credit are just as important as your service. Thanks again..

Patty Murray and Fellow Democrats-We Support our Military

CarlLegg
CarlLegg

The sequester was intended to limit spending. Now they've bypassed it. 

I am so sick of Congress.

dellflorida
dellflorida

Hey ,Defense gets some cuts restored to their approx. $500 billion a year budget;(a TRILLION dollars of taxpayer money every two years folks)!  Meanwhile nothing is done about the fraud and waste of many billions of taxpayer money given to the Defense Dept.  Wherer are all thew congressmen investigating this?

If there is only 10% waste and fraud in the  military programs.- that would be $50 BILLION  a year of taxpayer money wasted, and in ten years half a TRILLION taxpayer dollars wasted.

  The Defense Dept. accountanst can't even figure out how much money they have and how much has been spent. They violate the law and fudge it and estimate-so the waste and fraud could be well over 10%....

mary.waterton
mary.waterton

Chuck Schumer ... now there's a guy who is the very picture of slime, deceit and corruption. Whenever something crooked is about to happen, there's his face in the news.

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

This is a good step in the right direction.  But, truth be told, it isn't nearly good enough.  Still, we'll take it with the hope that both sides can actually do something about spending, the tax code and the national debt.

For more information on this take a look here - http://www.fixthedebt.org/about-the-debt

There are several plans and guidelines to achieve fiscal reasonableness including Bowles/Simpson.  This budget agreement is only the first step.  But it's a very important one. 

RobertNguyen
RobertNguyen

Good. Now go address the Chinese 's aggression in Asia, jobless in America, and climate change in the Planet....

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

@CarlLegg

Sequester did more harm than good Mr. Carl. No economist supported it for the meat ax method of cutting spending.  Even Rep. Paul Ryan on last Sunday's Meet the Press admitted that the sequester wasn't a good way to cut spending.
The indiscriminate nature of the spending cuts as dictated by Sequester was like lobbing a grenade in a room full of people just to get at one bad guy.

As an alternative I suggest you check out this site - http://www.fixthedebt.org/about-the-debt

and this one - http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxtopics/Bowles_Simpson_Brief.cfm

jmac
jmac

@CarlLegg That's not true.  The sequester was done to force congress to compromise.   No one thought it would come down to sequester because it's too draconian.   It was done that way to force them to compromise.  

dellflorida
dellflorida

@mary.waterton   There is never any slime,deceit and corruption among Republican lawmakers- why is it always the Democrats doing this? it is a real mystery.

tom.litton
tom.litton

@AlphaJulietteI wouldn't say it's within our comfort zone (a ration of 40-50% would be way better), but unemployment is way outside of our comfort zone, and inequality is way outside our comfort zone.


Those 2 problems should come first, even if they do increase the debt short term. 


However, if you want to solve the debt, you really have to look at 2 things:  defense spending and entitlements.  One party doesn't want to cut one, and neither party wants to cut the other.  Which is a shame, because defense spending seems like a no brainer.  It seems to be a much better plan to take the money we spend on defending the world and use it to make ourselves stronger in the long run.  Right now all China has to do to defeat America is wait.

However, you have to be careful with entitlements.  You could easily make the inequality problem much worse by cutting benefits in the wrong way.   I would start with making health care cheaper, which helps everyones finances.


I agree that politicians need to work together.  However, in order for that to happen, you have to get money out of politics and eliminate gerrymandering.  Until those 2 problems are solved, nothing else will get done in any meaningful way.

CarlLegg
CarlLegg

@AlphaJuliette 

Gutting the Sequester agreement is not a step in the right direction. It is a slap in the face to all Americans. This Congress is corrupt and pathetic.

tom.litton
tom.litton

@AlphaJuliette It isn't useful to look at raw numbers, such as $17 trillion.  After all the danger of the amount you owe varies greatly depending on how much money you can earn.  ($200k debt for someone who makes $50k per year is pretty high, but for someone who makes $50 million a year, it's nothing). 

So it's more useful to look at the debt to GDP ratio (which is basically the money we owe compared to what we make).  That ratio is expected to remain stable for the next 10 years, then rise gradually thanks to entitlements.

That means you don't need to lower the debt, or even eliminate the deficit.  Both inflation and economic growth will erode the debt over time.

I'm suggesting we focus on economic growth, which will help bring down the debt to GDP ratio and raise revenues.  Even if it takes more spending, we are so far below our potential that it would more then pay off in the long run.  After all there is evidence that the unemployment is starting to lower our potential (which permanently makes the debt worse). 

We can do this by investing in anything that will make us more competitive in the long run:  education, better infrastructure, research, etc.  It will help the economy now (and partially offset the cost via more revenue), help the economy in the future, and (thanks to super low interest rates) is cheaper in the long run.

tom.litton
tom.litton

@AlphaJulietteHow about we focus on the GDP side of the debt to GDP ratio, since the deficit is going down very fast.


Besides the debt isn't suppose to get worse for the next 10 years (according to the CBO), so the real harm is coing from the unemployment right now.

dellflorida
dellflorida

@AlphaJuliette Speaking of the National Debt. It was about a Trillion $Dollars when Pres. Reagan became president. and  When George Bush Jr. left office it was about $10 Trillion $Dollars. Durinfgthat time we had 20 years of Republican presidents, and 8 years of democratic presidents. So you could say  thT 9/10 of the National debt basically happened when Reagan and BUsh Jr. were in office. Bush Sr. didn't add that much, and Clinton,with Republican senatorial help knocked a couple trillion off the National Debt before leaving office.

So the huge National debt of many trillions is a very recent thing.  Of course congressses, who are supposed to restrain presidents fiscally,voted into law every penny of that money....

CarlLegg
CarlLegg

@AlphaJuliette  I think the massive defense cuts in the sequester were the right thing to do.

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

Addendum to Carl - I too am very sick and tired of Congress.  They are NOT working for the prosperity of this nation.  They ARE protecting their ideological partisanship in an effort to win elections.  It is up to We the People to do our homework to become informed and to vote for responsible representatives to actually work for the benefit of all of us.

Two more links that inform for your consideration;

http://images.politico.com/global/2013/02/18/a_bipartisan_path_toward_securing_americas_future_final.html

http://www.cfr.org/politics-and-strategy/foreign-policy-begins-home/p29767


notsacredh
notsacredh

@jmac, I was suspicious of the sequester when it was first proposed. The cuts would be draconian if no budget deal was reached so the thinking was that a deal/compromised would be worked out. But weren't draconian cuts what the tea party wanted in the first place? My thinking at the time was that the tea party would force the sequester to take place and then work to exempt the military cuts. Obama would be forced to go against the military if he opposed a stand-alone military budget.

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

@tom.litton

Got it!  However, 17 Trillion with no cap or control on spending is still unacceptable.  Neither is the borrow and spend policies that the GOP have been relying on for decades.  Consider what the interest payment is on 17 Trillion.  That chunk of change could be better directed at the infrastructure etc.

You, me, and the government need to live within our means.  It's reassuring to hear that the ratio seems stable and within our comfort zone.  And I wholeheartedly agree that we should focus on economic growth.  But that is going to be directly related to the cohesiveness of our leadership in Washington.  Should both parties actually work toward the prosperity of all then confidence in the business sector will soar.

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

 tom.litton

I must confess to being a bit of a fish out of water with your comparison.  From my perch I'm simply looking at the deficit spending aspect which is driving up the national debt.  17 trillion is outrageous and will only become worse as long as we continue our borrow and spend policies (Thank you Ronald Reagan!)

A reasonable budget needs to be established with the component part being to bring down the debt.  I like the Bowles/Simpson plan because it's an unbiased approach by a group who have been studying this issue for years.  They also advocate substantial tax reform.  If I were the leaders of both parties I would elect to adopt this plan.  It's a win win.


dellflorida
dellflorida

@AlphaJuliette @RobertNguyen  Since Reagan, the more Extreme Conservatives voted into congress, the more we have lurched from 'crisis to crisis'...and the more crises we have had...

You have not noticed this?)....

By the way, our diversity and diversity of opinion is what makes us a great country-no comiong together under one vision of the country-such as the Ann Rand one now being played out....

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

@dellflorida@RobertNguyen

delflorida, I'm not advocating an abandonment of ones position on these economic issues.  My statement of coming together to work for the general good comes from an opinion that both sides have good ideas and valid concerns when it comes to the federal budget. 

This deplorable fiscal situation has taken years to create.  It will take years to correct.  The idea of using a meat axe (sequestration) is damaging and counterproductive overall.  But, if both sides can actually consider the ideas presented by the other and work to continue to support those who rely on much needed social programs until jobs once again become abundant then we have a much more reasonable and responsible way forward, in my humble opinion.