Entries in Spending Bill (3)


Senate Democrats Unveil Spending Bill, Plan Proposal Votes

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Democrats unveiled their spending proposal on Friday for the remaining seven months of fiscal year 2011 and said they want to hold votes early next week on their proposal and the GOP’s plan.

“We will at least know where we stand, Mr. President, to move this ball down the road a little further,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the floor Friday.

“I’m much more concerned with keeping our country running and investing in our future than in this political game that we see,” he added.

Using President Obama’s never-enacted 2011 budget proposal as the baseline, Senate Democrats said their proposal includes $51 billion in cuts – about half of the $100 billion in cuts that the GOP wants, using that same baseline.

Republicans have argued that the president’s 2011 budget proposal is not a valid baseline since it was never enacted. The baseline that should be used, the GOP has said, is the current level of spending in the original continuing resolution. According to that baseline, the GOP has $61 billion in cuts in the spending bill passed by House Republicans last month. Under that baseline, the Democrats’ new proposal includes nowhere near $51 billion in cuts, but rather closer to $10 billion, a much smaller fraction of what the GOP wants.

Reid said he wants next week’s votes to take place on Tuesday, but the Senate’s top Republican Mitch McConnell objected for the time being saying his party would like to study the Democrats’ proposal over the weekend before agreeing to any set votes.

Republicans have vociferously argued that the Democrats’ cuts do not go nearly far enough. Earlier Friday McConnell called a similar White House budget proposal “unacceptable and indefensible” and told Democrats to “get serious.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Senate Passes Spending Bill To Avoid Government Shutdown 

Photo Courtesy - Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate on Wednesday passed a stopgap spending bill to avert a government shutdown at week’s end and buy lawmakers two more weeks to reach a long-term funding deal, with the White House offering up Vice President Biden to lead those negotiations.  

The Senate voted 91-9 to pass the two-week extension that would cut $4 billion in funding. The bill now goes to the White House for President Obama’s signature.

The nine senators voting against the bill included Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the Senate’s number-four Democrat. The other lawmakers opposing the bill were Democrats Tom Harkin of Iowa, Carl Levin of Michigan, and Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Republicans Mike Crapo of Idaho, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Jim Risch of Idaho.

Republicans touted the bill’s passage as a victory after Democrats ultimately relented in their efforts to pass a short-term bill with no cuts at all.

“This is a long-awaited acknowledgement by Democrats in Congress that we have a spending problem around here,” the Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, said on the chamber floor Wednesday morning. “It’s hard to believe when we’re spending $1.6 trillion more than we’re taking in a single year, that it would take this long to cut a penny in spending, but it’s progress nonetheless.”

“It’s also encouraging to hear the White House say yesterday they’d be supportive of a four-week CR with $8 billion in cuts. So it’s encouraging that the White House and Congressional Democrats now agree that the status quo won’t work, that the bills we pass must include spending reductions.”

Democrats led by Harry Reid initially blasted the GOP’s stopgap proposal last Wednesday. Reid spokesman Jon Summers denounced it as an “extreme package,” a “non-starter” in the Senate, and “a two-week version of the reckless” $61 billion seven-month bill passed earlier by House Republicans.

But late last Friday they changed their stance, arguing that the two-week bill was actually a concession to Democrats since it included cuts they had previously supported. On Tuesday, Reid told reporters that “these are our programs, so we’ll pass this.”

Other lawmakers on that side of the aisle were left fuming at the GOP. Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, accused Republicans of hypocrisy for opposing higher taxes for the wealthy but then turning around and prioritizing deficit reduction.

“When it came to giving huge tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this country I didn’t hear my Republican friends say, ‘Oh gee, we can’t do that because it’s going to drive up the deficit,’” Sanders said.

“Now suddenly we have people who have great concerns about the national debt and the deficit and they intend to balance that budget on the backs of working people, the elderly, the sick, the poor, the children.”

While lawmakers used Wednesday's short-term deal to avert a shutdown at week’s end, they have merely kicked the can down the road – the next question becomes whether they can reach a long-term deal to avert a shutdown come March 18.

Reid said at a press conference after the vote that members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have been invited to meet with Vice President Biden, either on Capitol Hill or at the White House, to start discussing a long-term measure.

“In the next 24 hours there will be some meetings that will be directed by Vice President Biden,” Reid said.

“Negotiations on a long-term measure need to begin immediately,” urged Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, calling on Republicans to “sit down at the negotiating table right away.”

As an indication of how challenging that road ahead could be, the Senate’s number-two Democrat, Dick Durbin, said it would take “a superhuman effort” from all sides to reach a long-term deal.

“I don’t think we should be celebrating today,” he cautioned.

Already the war of words has started to heat up. Republicans have expressed a reluctance to negotiate until Democrats unveil a plan of their own, a stance that Reid on Wednesday called “shallow” and “foolish.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


House Cuts F-35 Engine from Spending Bill

Photo Courtesy - ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Congress voted to strip federal funding for a jet engine the president doesn't want and the Pentagon says it doesn't need. The second engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has long been viewed by good-government groups as the prime example of government spending and pork barrel politics run amok.

Members of the House of Representatives voted to strip funding for the spare engine Wednesday despite high-profile support from House Speaker John Boehner and other leading congressmen.

Lawmakers are considering a stopgap bill to fund the government through the end of the year. Republicans, newly in control of the House, have laid out a slate of painful spending cuts to appease new members who align themselves with Tea Party and helped Republicans take majority control of the House in November.

The vote to strip funding was bipartisan. Republicans and Democrats voted 233-198 to amend the GOP's spending package and cut the F-35 extra-engine program. A hundred and ten House Republicans -- the majority of whom were Tea Party-affiliated freshmen -- joined 121 Democrats in defeating the bill.

A vote on final passage of the spending bill is expected Thursday evening in the House. The Senate must also approve the spending measure before funding runs out March 4. And the future of the full funding bill is far from certain. President Obama has threatened to veto the spending bill because it cuts other programs he's called important. But the vote by the House demonstrates an important step against the powerful defense lobby.

Funding for the spare F-35 engine has drawn heavy criticism from some lawmakers in Congress and the Defense Department, but enjoyed the support of the House GOP leadership. Plants that produce local jobs are located in or near the districts of the two top Republicans in the House.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio