Senate Passes Its First Budget in Nearly Four Years
For the first time since April 29, 2009, the United States Senate has passed a budget. Early this morning, the Senate finished voting on dozens of amendments and gave final passage to its version of the budget — which never balances and raises taxes by $1 trillion — by a vote of 50 to 49.
It was mostly a party-line vote, 48 Democrats and two Independents, both of whom caucus with the party in power, voted for passage. Four Democrats — Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT), Mark Begich (D-AK), Kay Hagan (D-NC), and Mark Pryor (D-AR) — joined all 45 Republicans in opposition. It just so happens that every Democrat who voted against the budget is up for re-election next year.
Sens. Tim Johnson (D-SD), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mark Udall (D-CO), and Mark Warner (D-ND) are also up for re-election next year. Their votes in favor of the budget will no doubt be brought up by their opponents.
Negotiators from the House, which passed its budget proposal on Thursday, and Senate will soon meet in a conference committee to try to reconcile their vast differences. Because they’re so far apart — with the House wanting a balanced budget in 10 years, tax reform, and entitlement reform and the Senate pushing $1 trillion in tax hikes and an perpetually unbalanced budget — agreement on a budget for FY 2014 looks unlikely.
Here’s a look at some of the amendments to the budget that were proposed between Thursday and this morning. Some of these amendments, which weren’t limited to the budget, can help you determine where your senators stand.
— Chuck Grassley’s Tax Reform Amendment: This amendment would have shielded Americans from the $1 trillion tax hike proposed in the Senate Democrats’ budget and encouraged pro-growth, revenue-neutral tax reform.
Result: Rejected — 45/54
— Rand Paul’s Budget Amendment: This amendment would have substituted the budget rolled out yesterday by Sen. Paul, which would have balanced the budget in five years, cut taxes, repealed ObamaCare, , enacted entitlement reform, and eliminated cabinet-level departments.
Result: Rejected — 18/81
— John Hoeven’s Keystone XL Amendment: This amendent approved the contruction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which is currently under review by the Obama Administration. Americans overwhelmingly in support of Keystone XL and the State Department recently declared that the project doesn’t pose a substantial environmental impact.
Result: Approved — 62/37
— John Thune’s Death Tax Repeal Amendment: This amendment would have repealed the federal death tax — more commonly known as the estate tax, which subjects estates worth $5.25 million to a 40% tax rate. This tax has high compliance costs and it isn’t a major source of revenue for the federal government. Moreover, it essentially punishes people for working hard during their lifetimes and discourages entrepreneurship.
Result: Rejected — 46/53
— Mike Enzi’s Internet Sales Tax Amendment: This amendment — the so-called “Marketplace Fairness Act” — allows states greater authority to collect taxes from businesses who don’t have a physical presence within its borders. Many governors support it because it gives them a new revenue stream with which to spend on pet projects or other programs. This amendment is bad news for several reasons, many of which we pointed out earlier this week.
Result: Approved — 75/24
— Mike Lee’s: Gun Control Amendment: This amendment, which we noted yesterday, would have change the Senate rules to create a point of order against gun control measures. If it had been adopted, the point of order would have created a 2/3 vote in the Senate for any new gun control measures.
Result: Rejected — 50/49 (required 5/3 — or 60 votes)
— Jim Inhofe’s UN Arms Treaty Amendment: This amendment prevents the United States from entering into the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty. Many believe that the treaty could be used to impose stricter gun control measures inside the United States.
Result: Approved — 53/46
— Richard Shelby’s Financial Regulations Amendment: This amendment would have required federal regulators to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of any proposed financial rules or regulations to determine whether or not it makes sense.
Result: Rejected — 47/52
— Tom Coburn’s White House Tours Amendment: This amendment would have transfered funds from the National Heritage Partnership Program to reopen the White House tours and vistor services and maintenance at national parks.
Result: Rejected — 45/54