Senate Passes Its First Budget in Nearly Four Years

United States Senate

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.

Obama Administration Failed to Enact $67 Billion in Cost-Savings

At time when there is a lot of fake panic over the sequester — the extent of which apparently knows no bounds as the White House has canceled tours and threatened the annual Easter egg roll — a recently released report from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee notes that the Obama Administration hasn’t acted $67 billion in suggested spending reforms.

The sequester will cut some $44 billion in spending from the current fiscal year, less than the proposed spending reforms to “eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal government,” which were suggested by the Obama Administration’s own Inspector General [IG].

“In 2008, then-Chairman Henry Waxman found that the Bush Administration did not fully implement more than 13,800 IG recommendations made since 2001,” states the House Oversight Committee’s report. “Since then-Ranking Member Darrell Issa began surveying the IGs, the total number of open and unimplemented recommendations has increased dramatically, from 10,894 in 2009 to 16,906 in 2012.”

White House Declares War on the Easter Bunny in Latest Sequester Stunt

White House Easter Egg Roll

Earlier this month, the White House announced that it would end public tours as a cost-saving measure due to the sequester, automatic cuts to the rate of spending increases that took effect at the beginning of the month. The move, which was clearly political in nature, was met with resentment and it has ultimately hurt Obama’s messaging on the sequester.

The White House apparently hasn’t learned anything as it appears that the annual Easter egg roll is now in jeopardy, according to Politico:

The next casualty of sequestration could be the Easter Bunny – at least according to a White House e-mail that recently landed in Capitol Hill inboxes.

The White House warned Congress that budget uncertainties could nix the annual Easter Egg Roll for kids, which is planned for April 1.

“[B]y using these tickets, guests are acknowledging that this event is subject to cancellation due to funding uncertainty surrounding the Executive Office of the President and other federal agencies,” the White House cautioned, according to two Capitol Hill sources who provided the language. “If cancelled, the event will not be rescheduled.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney said last week that the egg roll would go forward, although he left open the possibility that that could change.

White House Ends Tours, Will Throw Birthday Bash for the First Lady

White House

Last week, the White House announced that it would end its tour program due to spending cuts — known as the sequester — that took effect earlier this month. While the White House claims that ending the tours will save some $74,000 per week, ABC News recently noted that the figure is closer to $18,000 per week.

It’s hard for the White House to talk about these draconian cuts that are going to shut down White House tours, which are difficult to get in the first place, when they’re throwing a birthday party extravaganza for First Lady Michelle Obama that will feature Adele and Beyonce:

Preparations are already underway for Michelle Obama’s big 50th birthday next January, and two of music’s biggest acts have reportedly been booked for the occasion.

An unnamed (and potentially questionable) source told the UK’s Daily Mail that the first lady has asked Beyonce and Adele to perform at her party.

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