The Norman Transcript

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March 23, 2013

Senate Democrats near approval on budget deal

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

The Senate has already taken several politically freighted votes, including a move by Democrats to force a vote on the Paul Ryan House budget, which was rejected by a 59-40 vote Thursday night, with five Republicans joining every Democratic senator in opposition.

Republicans countered with a move by Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., putting Democrats on record in opposition to balancing the budget by the end of the decade. It failed on a near party-line vote.

Additional votes on Friday could feature forays into off-topic subjects like super-sized soft drinks, domestic drone strikes, handguns and abortion — in addition to the more traditional subjects of taxes, spending and debt.

It all concerned a largely symbolic measure known as a budget resolution, not binding legislation that could be sent to the president to become law. The Senate budget measure and the starkly different version passed by the House on Thursday seek to set parameters for follow-up legislation on taxes and spending.

The dueling House and Senate budget plans are anchored on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum in Washington. No Democrats voted for the House budget, and not a single Republican will vote for the Senate plan, written by new Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash. The GOP plan caters to tea party forces, while Murray was forced to reach out to liberals, rather than revive proposals such as increasing out-of-pocket Medicare costs for better off beneficiaries that were discussed when she co-chaired a failed 2011 deficit “supercommittee.”

While the House GOP plan seeks $4.6 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years on top of the $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts in the same timeframe.

Murray’s plan promises to replace the $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts, required under a hard-fought 2011 budget pact because of the failure of Washington follow up that deal with another deficit-cutting plan. She notes that they were never intended to take effect and were instead aimed at forcing Republicans and Democrats into a deal. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office warns the $85 billion in cuts set to strike the economy this year could cost 750,000 jobs.

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