November 25, 2014

Senate Rejects Budget Proposals in Partisan Votes

  • The federal budget is an expression of our country's values. Where we choose to spend and at what levels, how and who we tax, and the borrowing we...

In a series of partisan and largely symbolic votes, the Senate last week rejected five budget resolutions introduced by Republicans. Three of the proposals were introduced by Senators Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) and would have attempted to balance the budget within ten years, primarily using more severe spending cuts than those proposed by President Obama or assumed under current law.   

The plans assume some reforms to the tax system, such as eliminating a number of current deductions and credits.  As is the case with the House-passed budget resolution, however, revenue produced in the Senate Republican plans would primarily be used to lower tax rates rather than to reduce the deficit.

The Senate also considered the House-passed budget resolution and a proposal that Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) introduced and said was based on assumptions included in President Obama’s FY 2013 budget request.

All five proposals were rejected in procedural votes.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has stated that he will not bring a Democratic budget resolution to the floor this year and has argued that it is not necessary due to budget caps in last year’s Budget Control Act. Earlier this year, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad introduced a proposal based on the work of a majority of the Simpson-Bowles commission, though the committee has not yet voted on his proposal.

The Concord Coalition has said the Senate should approve a budget resolution this year that places the nation on a fiscally sustainable path. A responsible proposal should consider everything to be on the table for deficit reduction, including entitlement programs, revenues, domestic discretionary spending and defense.