A bipartisan budget agreement that will fund the federal government until September 2015 passed in the Senate Wednesday, but without the support of Tennessee’s senators.
The Senate voted 64-36 on the legislation. It now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.
Republican Congressman Paul Ryan and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray began negotiating the bill after the federal government shutdown. It passed the House with overwhelming support last week.
Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker had previously indicated they would vote against the legislation.
Alexander said the budget deal doesn’t do enough to reign in entitlement spending:
I voted 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 is particularly troubling that the budget agreement takes money from pensions in a way that treats military retirees worse than the civilian federal employees.
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 Sen. Murray to bring certainty to the budget process, which is why I voted Tuesday to allow a Senate vote on their agreement, which had passed the House with 2-to-1 Republican support.
Corker said the government shutdown weakened Republicans’ hands in negotiations:
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 billion 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.
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