Spending Cuts, Political Kryptonite for Some Senators
White House press secretary Jay Carney does not suspect sequester cuts will be reversed any time soon. He’s said that there is “not indication a change of heart is forthcoming” among Republicans. He also hopes that Congress approves a long-term budget deal that would replace sequester cuts with a combination of other spending cuts and tax increases.
Frankly, the sequester cuts at 2.4 percent of the federal budget for FY 2013, though not made in the most ideal manner, are small relative to the entire budget (not to mention the size of the overall economy) and should be honored. However lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have spent time and energy trying to reverse the sequester cuts with amendments to the Senate’s omnibus spending bill, which funds the federal government until October 1, 2013.
Senators, though, are not known for easily letting go of the power they wield over legislation. They frequently use their ability to tie the chamber in procedural knots until they get their way.
Not all of the proposed changes are limited to reinstating cuts made when the $85 billion in reductions began March 1 after Congress failed to reach a deal to avert them.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a top deficit hawk, has filed a half-dozen amendments, including to freeze federal hiring and restrict the ability of federal employees to travel to conferences.
Other amendments, though, go to the heart of the sequester cuts and seek to reshuffle the reductions in a way that their sponsors find more politically acceptable.
Not all of the amendments will come to a vote. To do so would take more time than Senate leaders from both sides appear willing to give the bill…
In fact, if the Senate amendments cannot be winnowed, as Reid has asked, the leader has threatened to force a vote on the overall spending bill without any amendments, which would certainly draw protests from senators.
Boehner is keeping an eye on the action. Any changes would have to be approved by his restive Republican majority. “Our goal here is to cut spending,” he said. “It’s not to shut down the government.”
To be clear, there were numerous places the sequester cut spending in a totally appropriate way. One such as example was the cut made to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG). Maybe that sounds mean, but the evidence clearly indicates that these grants do nothing to reduce fire casualties. So why are we spending that money?
Unfortunately, the some lawmakers are trying to use the funding bill to give $675 million taxpayer dollars to fund this useless grant program.
What the Senate debate illustrates is that lawmakers in Washington cannot stand the thought of cutting spending. Rather than explain how overspending is destroying our economy and children’s future, they’d rather debate adding more unnecessary spending to American taxpayers’ bill. Lawmakers should make a concerted effort to identify wasteful spending and to eradicate it.