During the long and arduous financial fights on Capitol Hill, one of the Republicans favorite attacks was how the Democratic Senate had not passed a budget in four years. Well, that changed last night. The Senate finally got around to approving a budget that will die on arrival in the House.
Maybe they didn't pass a budget because they were sure it would immediately fail once it hits the house? There's little point in going through the marathon voting session required to pass a budget if it won't mean anything once the Republican controlled house gets ahold of it. But they did just that yesterday, starting at 4 p.m. ET and finishing just before 5 a.m. Saturday morning. Yeah, that seems like a great way to spend a Friday night.
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Or maybe they didn't pass a budget for four years because they didn't have enough votes. Last night's budget only passed by 50-49 margin in the Democratically controlled Senate. Four Democrats voted against the budget, presumably because they're from traditionally red states and are all facing reelection: Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Begich of Alaska and Max Baucus of Montana.
The Senate's first budget in four years includes $100 billion in infrastructure spending and special rules designed to speed up the tax reform process. The plan would raise $975 billion over ten years in tax revenue from the wealthy and repeals the sequestration spending cuts. But it would still leave the federal government with billions an annual deficit greater than $500 billion and $5.2 trillion in additional debt. So, basically, it's the exact opposite of Paul Ryan's budget that balances the budget and slashes government spending over a ten year period.
And Ryan's budget is the one favored by the Republican controlled House. The two are expected to kill their respective budgets once the documents are put up to a vote after the two week Easter recess. The failing of the two budgets will set up another fiscal fight this summer when the White House will require the House to raise the debt ceiling again.
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The White House was proud of the Senate for finally graduating passing a budget while attacking the Republican-backed Ryan plan. "The President and Democrats in Congress are willing to make difficult choices so we can cut the deficit while laying the foundation for long term middle class job growth. And it is encouraging that both the Senate and House have made progress by passing budgets through regular order," Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. "The House Republican budget refuses to ask for a single dime of deficit reduction from closing tax loopholes for the wealthy and the well-connected but instead makes deep cuts to education and manufacturing while asking seniors and the middle class to pay more."
So the thirteen hours of debate were all for naught. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell applauded everyone after the budget passed but before they could split for the exits. "I commend everyone who has participated in this extraordinary debate," McConnell said.