Neil

Yarmuth and Paul vote no on stopgap spending bill

By: Neil Middleton
By: Neil Middleton

President Barack Obama says he will sign a stopgap bill that cuts billions of dollars in spending and averts a government shutdown. The Senate overwhelming passed a Republican-drafted stopgap bill today that trims $4 billion for the budget and keeps the government operating for two more weeks.

President Barack Obama says he will sign a stopgap bill that cuts billions of dollars in spending and averts a government shutdown.

The Senate overwhelming passed a Republican-drafted stopgap bill today that trims $4 billion for the budget and keeps the government operating for two more weeks.

The President says he’s pleased Congress passed the legislation but says lawmakers should not create the threat of a shutdown every few weeks.

"We can find common ground on a budget that makes sure we are living within our means," Mr. Obama said. "This agreement should be bipartisan, it should be free of any party's social or political agenda, and it should be reached without delay."

All but two members of Kentucky’s Congressional delegation voted in favor spending bill.  Democratic 3rd District Congressman John Yarmuth and Republican Senator Rand Paul both voted no.

In a prepared statement, Paul said the cuts don’t go far enough.

 

“The Democrats don’t seem to want to take any real action in balancing the budget, so I applaud the Republicans for moving a step further toward the needed cuts, however the proposals are simply not enough,”  

“This resolution spends money at a rate that still adds $1.5 trillion to the debt, and at that rate we will never get our nation’s fiscal house in order. Unless we consider making cuts to every major piece of legislation, we will not come close to balancing the budget. Just since 2008, the deficit has grown by 200 percent, and this resolution cuts only 6 percent of that. This plan does not allow us to avoid the coming debt crisis.”

Click here to read the Joint Resolution

Click here to see Roll Call vote for House

Click here to see Roll Call vote for Senate

The $4 billion in spending cuts include:

 

Program terminations proposed by Obama

      -$75 million in grants to states to buy updated voting machines

      -$250 million in reading assistance for at-risk students

      -$66 million from the Even Start literacy program

      -$29 million in load subsidies for rural broadband projects

      -$88 million for a program creating "smaller communities" within high schools to improve learning

      -$650 million by not repeating a one-time infusion of general taxpayer funds into highway programs

 

     

      Eliminating funds that would have gone to earmarks

      -$516 million from Army Corps of Engineers water projects

      -$422 million from Energy Department for energy efficiency projects and energy research

      -$265 million in various homeland security grants and projects

      -$994 million in various labor, health and education grants and projects

      -$293 million from surface transportation projects

      -$173 million in economic development projects

Here’s how the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Hal Rogers, introduced the bill to members of Congress.  The House approved the measure 335-91.  Six Congressmen did not vote.

 

The Senate approved the bill 91-9.  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the bill a “step in the right direction.”

 

(AP) -- The Senate on Wednesday sent President Barack Obama a Republican-drafted stopgap funding bill that trims $4 billion from the budget, completing hastily processed legislation designed to keep partisan divisions from forcing a government shutdown.

Moments later, Obama called on congressional leader to meet with top administration figures including Vice President Joe Biden to discuss a longer-term measure to fund the government through Sept. 30.

"We can find common ground on a budget that makes sure we are living within our means," Obama said. "This agreement should be bipartisan, it should be free of any party's social or political agenda, and it should be reached without delay."

The White House said Obama will sign the bill.

Congressional Republicans said it's up to Democrats to offer an alternative to carry into the talks. They have yet to produce one to respond to a $1.2 trillion omnibus spending measure that passed the House last month.

"The House position is perfectly clear. We cut $100 billion off the president's request for this fiscal year," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. "We have no clue where our colleagues on the Senate side are."

The Senate cleared the temporary measure by an overwhelming 91-9 vote that gives the GOP an early but modest victory in its drive to rein in government. Obama has until Friday to sign the measure and keep federal offices open and operations intact. The House passed the legislation on Tuesday.

The measure buys time for Obama, the GOP-dominated House and the Democratic-led Senate to start talks on legislation to fund the government through the end of September.

House Republicans last month muscled through a measure cutting this year's budget by more than $60 billion from last year's levels - and $100 billion from Obama's request - while trying to block implementation of Obama's health care law and a host of environmental regulations. The White House has promised a veto and it will take weeks or months to negotiate a compromise funding measure that Obama would sign.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said in testimony Wednesday that the House GOP spending cuts plan would reduce economic growth by as much as two-tenths of a percentage point and hurt job growth.

"That would translate into a couple hundred thousand jobs," Bernanke said. "It is not trivial."

The $4 billion in savings comes from some of the easiest spending cuts for Congress to make, hitting accounts that Obama already has proposed eliminating and reaping some of the money saved by earlier moves by Republicans to ban lawmakers from "earmarking" pet projects for their districts and states.

At issue are the operating budgets of every federal agency, including the Pentagon, where Defense Secretary Robert Gates is increasingly anxious for a full-year funding bill. "Discretionary spending" represents about a third of the overall $3.8 trillion federal budget.

"Our priorities are twofold. One, keep the government running so essential services don't get interrupted," said Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. "Equally important, we need to lay the groundwork with a budget that keeps what works and cuts what doesn't."

Some Republicans were restive that the bill didn't cut further.

"While some have been patting themselves on the back for proposing $4 billion in so-called `cuts,' in reality, this bill fully funds billions upon billions of dollars in wasteful, duplicative programs that should be eliminated, reduced, or reformed," said freshman GOP Sen. Mike Lee of Utah.

But other Republicans seized on the vote as setting a precedent for cuts of $2 billion a week - which, if extended through the end of the budget year, would match the $61 billion in cuts in a measure passed by the House last month to meet their promise of cutting federal agency operating budgets back to levels in place before Obama took office.

"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," said Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. "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."

The White House has promised a veto of the bigger GOP measure, citing crippling cuts to many federal agencies and studies by economists that predict the spending cuts would harm the economy.

The GOP won control of the House and gained seats in the Senate last fall with the backing of tea party activists demanding deep, immediate cuts in federal spending. They say that an early down payment on those cuts would send a confidence-building signal to financial markets and the business community.

Still, difficult negotiations loom between House Republicans, Senate Democrats and the White House over the full-year spending measure. It blends cuts across hundreds of programs - education, the environment, homeland security and the IRS among them - with a slew of provisions that attack clean air and clean water regulations, family planning and other initiatives.

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God Bless America!
 
Neil Middleton <><
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