Earlier today, the Senate rejected the House GOP’s $61.3 billion in spending cuts. The vote of 56-44 fell short of the 60 needed for Senate passage; not a single Democratic voted for the bill, as Politico notes. The Obama administration and lawmakers must now return to negotiations to address the stalemate about the budget as neither the GOP’s plan nor the Democrats’ more modest proposal has won the 60 votes required for approval in the Senate. The Democratic proposal received just 42 votes and the Republican proposal 44, with fourteen senators opposing both.
‘Senate leaders said the outcome should prompt a quick return to negotiations that should reach beyond the search for a short-term resolution,’ says the New York Times.The burden, says Politico, is now back on Speaker John Boehner to “to show more flexibility” in budget talks with the White House and Democrats, and to persuade House Republicans, and the 87 new freshmen in particular, to ‘give some ground’ rather than risk shutting down the government.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), while ‘outspoken’ in criticizing the bill, ultimately voted yes, as did two other New England Republicans facing election next year Sens. Olympia Snowe of Maine and Scott Brown of Massachusetts. But conservative Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah, who were both elected in November with support from the Tea Party, voted no in protest that the cuts did not go far enough.
Two Democratic Senators spoke about the damage huge cuts could cause on the still-fragile economy. From Politico:
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who had been targeted by the GOP, told his colleagues that the House bill “has too much hate” for him to accept. And Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), a second moderate in play, said the speed and size of the House cuts— $61.3 billion compressed in the second half of this fiscal year—could “cause just as big a crisis as our failure to deal with our long term structural debt.”
Domestic and federal programs, including Head Start and Pell Grants, faced a cuts of about $66 billion, a reduction of 14 percent. Others that would have been seriously affected by the House GOP’s proposed budget include a long list of early childhood and educational programs: Early Head Start, Head Start, child care, Maternal and Child Health Block Grant program, school-based health clinics, Community Services Block Grant, Low Income Heating Assistance Program, Pell Grants, and Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Youth Services.
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