Senator Lamar Alexander on Tuesday released the following statement on Senate consideration of the budget agreement passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 332-94:
“I will vote against the budget agreement because it avoids the federal government’s most urgent need: reducing the growth of runaway entitlement spending. Instead, it spends savings that should be used to strengthen Medicare, pensions, and the air transportation system.
“It would have been better to pay for this agreement with a small part of the $1 trillion in entitlement savings that Sen. Corker and I have identified in our ‘Fiscal Sustainability Act,’ or with entitlement savings suggested in the president’s budget.
“Although I can’t support it, I appreciate the efforts of Rep. Ryan and Senator Murray to bring certainty to the budget process, which is why I voted earlier today to allow a Senate vote on their agreement, which had passed the House with two-to-one Republican support.”
In February, Senators Alexander and Corker introduced the “Fiscal Sustainability Act,” S. 11, to reduce the growth of entitlement spending (Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security) by nearly $1 trillion in the next decade in order to improve the programs’ solvency. The bill incorporates many of the recommendations made by President Obama’s Debt Commission (Simpson-Bowles) as well as by former Republican Senator Pete Domenici and Alice Rivlin, budget director for former President Clinton.
Senator Bob Corker announced he will vote against the budget deal before the Senate because it busts budget caps without making meaningful changes to mandatory programs.
Earlier Tuesday Senator Corker voted against cloture, which is a vote to end debate on the budget deal. Majority Leader Harry Reid filled the amendment tree on this bill on Sunday, allowing no amendments and no debate. Since there was no debate and there were no amendments, Senator Corker did not feel it was appropriate to support cloture.
He said, “Because of the Budget Control Act, for three years in a row, Congress has spent less on discretionary programs than the year before. While I appreciate the dilemma Paul Ryan was in, it's disappointing the misguided strategy of the House this fall weakened our hand on fiscal issues and that House appropriators indicated they were unwilling to live within the budget discipline laid out in the sequester. So with the afterglow of the ‘bipartisan’ deal fading, I think everyone can see this budget deal busts the budget caps by $45,000,000,000 in the first year alone without making meaningful changes to mandatory programs, violating the only real progress we have made in getting our fiscal house in order and demonstrating that Congress continues to lack the discipline to control spending even in this small way. Spending now and paying later is the cause of our deficit problems, not the solution.”