Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced in a press release statement today that the Senate “will vote on the budget President Obama submitted to Congress in February.”
“I understand that the Majority Leader would like to have a vote on the House-passed Ryan budget and we will,” McConnell said. “But we’ll have a vote on the President’s budget at the same time. Since there is no Democrat budget in the Senate, we’ll give our colleagues an opportunity to stand with the President in failing to address the problems facing our nation while calling for trillions in new spending, massive new debt and higher taxes on American energy, families and small businesses across the country.”
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) “on Tuesday announced his support for strict spending caps that put him at odds with his party’s leadership and President Obama,” The Hill reports.
Manchin told an audience in South Charleston, W.Va. that he would endorse the “CAP Act,” which sets a tighter spending limit than the president’s budget calls for, as well as a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.
The senator suggested the legislation could help Republicans and Democrats agree to a deal to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.
“Today, I will be announcing my support for two proposals that I believe provide a good starting point and framework from which we can move forward,” he said, according to excerpts of his remarks released by his office. “But let me be also clear — one of my top priorities will be to make sure that whatever final debt fix emerges, it will keep our promises to our seniors by protecting Social Security and Medicare. I believe we can do this and cut our debt and deficits over time.”
The “CAP Act,” sponsored by GOP Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.) and Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill (Mo.), would cap federal spending at 20.6 percent of gross national product after 10 years.
According to the Floor Action blog, Senator Corker says the White House is actively working against the spending cap proposal.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Monday the White House is calling every member of the Senate, urging them to reject the “CAP Act.”
“The White House is calling every individual senator and asking them to stay off of this bill,” Corker told the Times-News editorial board Monday while promoting his legislation. “I see it as a part of the fulcrum of this (spending) debate. I’m hoping that it passes.”
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has named Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) to represent Senate Republicans at “budget talks led by Vice President Joe Biden,” POLITICO reports.
Obama had urged each caucus to name four members to the talks – but House and Senate Democrats each named two, and McConnell has entrusted the talks into the staunchly conservative Kyl, who is retiring next year.
“Sen. Kyl is a key member of our leadership team and a senior member of the Finance Committee," McConnell said in a statement. "He understands both the urgency of the debt crisis and the need for a significant effort to reduce that debt before any successful vote on the debt ceiling increase. There is bipartisan opposition in the Senate to raising the debt ceiling unless we do something significant about the debt, and I was encouraged to see the President acknowledge that in an interview Friday."
Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) gave the Republican address today. In discussing this week’s speech on the deficit, he says President Obama “failed to put a serious proposal on the table.”
“Our nation is facing a $14.3 trillion national debt that our own military leaders call the greatest threat to our national security. In these challenging times, we need real leadership to bring us together. As Americans, there is not a problem that we can’t solve if we are together. And unfortunately, in his speech this week on the deficit, President Obama took us three steps backwards.
“Instead of describing the threat and bringing both sides together, the president attacked those who have a different vision of the government.
“As leaders we have a moral obligation to tell the country the truth. The truth is, is we could face a serious debt crisis sooner than anyone expects. We face an unsustainable debt and unsustainable entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. All of which will collapse if they’re not reformed.”
On government waste:
“The president also underestimated how much we could save by going after waste, fraud and abuse. In just six years of oversight in my office alone, we have identified more than $350 billion in annual waste in the federal government. The president says he wants to use a scalpel, but as a physician, let me tell you, when it comes to waste and duplication at the federal government level, we don’t need a scalpel. We need a chain saw.”
On tax reform:
“Finally, on the issue of tax reform, the president walked away from serious bipartisan compromise on tax reform reached by his very own deficit commission on which I served. Our blueprint lowered tax rates for everyone, and reduced the deficit by stimulating real economic growth. The president’s plan undermines our bipartisan agreement by calling for rate increases that will slow the economic growth that he so much wants.”
Finally, on the issue of earmarks, Senator Coburn says Congress is “on pace to have zero earmarks” this year.
The bipartisan “Congressional team that President Obama proposed this week to negotiate a long-term debt-reduction plan with the White House is shaping up to be smaller and less ambitious than he spelled out – that is, if it gets off the ground at all,” the New York Times reports.
Mr. Obama on Wednesday asked the House and Senate leaders of both parties to name four members each – a total of 16 – to begin meeting in May with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and to try to agree to a deficit-cutting plan on spending and taxes by the end of June. The intent is to have a plan by early July so Congress could consider it.
But on Thursday evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat of Nevada, is expected to name just two Democrats, both committee chairmen averse to major parts of the debt-reduction effort – Max Baucus of Montana, the head of the Senate Finance Committee, who, like Mr. Reid, has said he will not support any changes in Social Security, and Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii, who as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee is protective of annual spending for domestic and military programs.
The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, told Mr. Obama at the White House on Wednesday that a 17-member group would be too large to be constructive, and he is considering naming just one Senate Republican instead of four, Republicans say. One said that he is considering naming Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the number-two Republican in the Senate who, like many Republicans, adamantly refuses to consider raising taxes for high-income Americans, as Mr. Obama has proposed.