As predicted, the Senate this afternoon rejected both the House and Senate versions of a bill to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year, sending negotiators back to the drawing boards.
The House version, titled House Resolution 1, or H.R. 1, failed 44-56 with three Republican senators voting against it from the right. The three were South Carolina’s Jim DeMint, Kentucky’s Rand Paul and Mike Lee of Utah — the only members of the Senate Tea Party Caucus. “If we were to adopt the president’s approach, we would have $1.65 trillion deficit in one year. If we were to adopt the House approach, we’re going to have a $1.55 trillion deficit in one year,” Paul said in a statement following the votes. “I think both approaches do not significantly alter or delay the crisis that’s coming,” he continued. “Borrowing money on the backs of our children and grandchildren is unacceptable. We must take bold action to end excessive spending in Washington in order to protect our country for future generations.” All 53 Democrats voted against the bill.
The Senate version failed 42 to 58 with 11 Democrats voting against their own Party’s bill and all Republicans voting against it. Ten Democrats voted against it because it didn’t go far enough in cutting spending — Michael Bennet of Colorado, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Wisconsin’s Herb Kohl, Michigan’s Carl Levin, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Missouri’s Claire McCaskill, Bill Nelson of Florida, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Colorado’s Mark Udall. “Both bills are dead. And they deserve to be dead. One bill cuts too little. The other bill has too much hate. Neither one is serious,” Ben Neslon said on the Senate floor. “Washington needs to put aside all the games and gimmicks, the tricks and treats, and come together to do what’s right for the American people by passing a budget. They deserve it. They are owed it. And it is time.” The eleventh senator, Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Independent who caucuses with the Democrats, voted against it because it cut too much.
The votes show that there’s an appetite for more cuts that the $6.5 billion from current spending that Democrats were proposing, but not support for the drastic $57 billion slashing House Republicans support. Finding a middle ground will be the Senate’s challenge in the coming weeks — a feat not likely achieved by next Friday when the current funding of the federal government expires. Which means that Congress will have to pass another short term extension next week as the Senate works its will.