The Senate voted down the House Republicans' budget bill that would cut $61.3 billion from the federal budget for the rest of the fiscal year on Wednesday afternoon, Politico's David Rogers reports. Not a single Democrat voted for the legislation, notable given that the party is defending 23 seats next year, many of them moderates facing great pressure to curb spending.
One of those senators, Missouri's Claire McCaskill, said the size of the cuts could “cause just as big a crisis as our failure to deal with our long term structural debt.” Another, Nebraska's Ben Nelson, said the House bill "has too much hate." Meanwhile, conservative Sens. Jim DeMint, Rand Paul and Mike Lee voted no because the cuts weren't deep enough. Senate Democrats offered their own plan with much smaller cuts of $6 billion. That too was rejected, by a vote of 42 to 58, with 10 members of the Democratic caucus voting against it. (The Republican plan failed 44 to 56.)
The deadline to pass a budget--and prevent a government shuttdown--is March 18.
- Now What? Hot Air's Allahpundit wonders. Senate Majority Leader Harry "Reid can’t accede to an endless stream of short-term GOP spending measures. The last one cut $4 billion and the one Republicans are currently planning will call for another $4 billion, the sum of which already exceeds the Democrats’ pathetic grand total in cuts for the rest of the year. ... The left will have a hard time explaining to voters, though, why it was important to bring the government to a halt over $4 billion..." That 11 Democrats voted against their party's plan will "give [House Speaker John] Boehner some extra leverage in negotiating the next round with Reid, but not as much as he needs. The 42 Democrats who voted yes are still enough to mount a filibuster."
- Now Negotiations Can Begin, The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen writes. "[T]he failures of the bills were basically a formality that the Senate needed to get out of the way. The point is to now return to the negotiating table, letting House Republicans know their plan can't pass as it currently exists, and the White House's alternative can't, either."
- Just a Prelude to the Real Fight, Robert Hiltonsmith writes at The American Prospect. What Republicans really want to cut is Social Security and Medicare, he writes. "Conservatives have always used misguided public fear about the size of the national deficit as an excuse to target government programs they hate -- and score political points." Hiltonsmith says the GOP will look to recommendations made by President Obama's deficit commission, led by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, which would cut entitlement programs significantly. "So, as the current budget skirmish is resolved and the real battle is joined, don't be surprised to see the GOP resurrect the Bowles-Simpson recommendations when they offer their budget in the spring. And if they do, we should be just as wary of them as we were the first time around."