- Multiple injuries as balcony collapses at London’s Apollo theatre during performance
- Egypt rights center raided, 2 Mubaraks acquitted
- New Mexico Supreme Court rules same-sex marriage constitutional
- Blame Bush: 5 years later, that’s still the mantra, pollsters find
- Dutch prostitutes demand same retirement benefits as soccer stars
- John McCain to Harry Reid: I’ll ‘kick the crap’ out of you
- Dogs that talk: Researchers seek $10K for ‘No More Woof’ technology
- 1,000 firefighters called to battle stubborn Big Sur wildfire
- Black Friday brouhaha: Millions of Target shoppers hit by credit card theft
- Britain orders airplane to rescue citizens from violent South Sudan
Cost offsets that Bunning once pitched catch on
GOP stands firm on budget trade-offs
Question of the Day
Jim Bunning may be out of the Senate, but the fire he lit 18 months ago when he held up the entire chamber — objecting to an extension of unemployment benefits unless the costs were matched with cuts elsewhere — still smolders.
Mr. Bunning, a former big league pitcher who retired from the Senate last year, lost his February 2010 fight to offset the unemployment money and angered even many of his GOP colleagues at the time. But as months passed, his fellow Republicans warmed to his crusade and have since carried his banner, establishing precedents for offsetting physicians’ Medicare payments, raising the debt ceiling and other spending proposals.
Their winning streak is on the line again this week as the GOP insists that emergency spending on disaster relief be offset by cuts elsewhere — and Democrats ferociously fight a rear-guard action, arguing that some things must trump trying to balance the budget.
“A lesson we can draw from the debates we’ve been having here over the last six months is that the American people won’t accept that excuse any longer,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican. “The whole ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it’ argument is the reason we’ve got a $14 trillion debt right now.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, has set up a test vote Monday evening on a bill that gives House Republicans everything they requested — their 2012 spending limit and their emergency disaster number — but tacks $1 billion of the immediate money onto the 2011 deficit, rather than offsetting it.
Asked at a Friday news conference whether there was a scenario in which they could accept offsets, Mr. Reid answered flatly: “No.”
All sides agree that President Obama requested too little disaster money, and with a spate of emergencies such as the Missouri tornado and Mississippi River flooding earlier this year and the late-summer hurricane and earthquake, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster fund is about to run dry.
Republicans and Democrats want to replenish the fund, but they disagree on the amount of money. Complicating matters is that the disaster funding is tied to a broader stopgap measure to keep the government open into next month.
Current funding runs out Sept. 30, which is the end of the government’s fiscal year 2011, and Congress has not passed a single one of the dozen spending bills for 2012.
After an initial defeat, House Republicans powered through a bill early Friday that funds the government through Nov. 18 and includes $3.65 billion in disaster funding, with $1 billion of that credited to 2011 accounts to give an immediate boost to FEMA. To pay for that near-term funding, House Republicans cut $1.5 billion from a clean-energy vehicle technology program.
The Senate on Friday tabled that bill on a bipartisan 59-36 vote, and Mr. Reid then introduced a test proposal, which accepts the Nov. 18 funding date and even adopts the House’s $3.65 billion disaster level — which is half of what Senate Democrats say is needed.
Democrats drew the line at including offsets. They argued that the push for offsets is hypocritical and pointed to the myriad programs Republicans passed under President George W. Bush that were added to the deficit rather than offset: a huge new entitlement in the Medicare prescription drug bill, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and several tax cuts.
President Obama’s health care initiative includes tax increases and spending cuts over the next decade that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, more than compensate for the expanded spending under the law.
“What makes it worse is that some of the Republicans who are opposing this disaster relief it’s their constituents who’ve been hit harder than anyone by these natural disasters,” Mr. Obama told a small group of donors at a fundraiser in Seattle.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Senators work late on 'take it or leave it' defense bill that ignores big issues
- Illegal immigrant girl smuggled into U.S. by federal agents: judge
- Deportations under Obama plunged to just 1 percent last year
- White House says it's open to 45 of panel's proposed 46 NSA changes
- Democrats cite pope in call for minimum wage hike, jobless benefits
Latest Blog Entries
Sean Lengell covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at email@example.com.
- GOP tests Democrats on college loan issue
- Lawmakers outside intelligence loop get miffed about briefing structure in Congress
- John Boehner: Time is right to bring latest farm bill to House floor
- Supreme Court nears rulings on key voting rights cases
- John Boehner demands answers on NSA, phone records
Latest Blog Entries
By Michael P. Orsi
Edward Snowden should declare his patriotism in court
- Citing 'unfair system,' Obama commutes sentences for 8 crack offenders
- Gov't wasted $30 billion on 'pillownauts,' crystal goblets -- buying human urine!
- Homeland Security helps smuggle illegal immigrant children into the U.S.
- Bill Gates: The Secret Santa disguised as a 'friendly fellow' on Reddit
- EDITORIAL: Red faces at the White House
- Outrage over Phil Robertson suspension, 'malignant' political correctness
- BOLTON: Nero in the White House
- PRUDEN: 'Tis the season for apologies
- Special ops vets slam military benefit cuts
- Armed response, not restrictive gun laws, brought swift end to school shooting
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Southern Fried Politics from the Lens of a Persian-American Millennial
All of the world’s problems, solved on your back porch
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow