Senate’s all-day budget debate dominated by politics

May 17, 2012

From Ted Barrett, CNN Senior Congressional Produce

Washington (CNN) — It had all the appearances of a serious-minded debate: Republicans insisted the Senate spend all day Wednesday arguing which party had better budget proposals to fix the economy.

But the reality was none of the measures had enough votes to pass, and much of the exercise was an effort by both parties to score political points and embarrass the other side — another display of partisan maneuvering that polls show frustrates voters.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell opened the debate by accusing Democrats of being “irresponsible” for not passing a formal budget this year.

“If you’re looking for a simple, three-word description of the Democrat approach to the problems we face, it’s this: duck and cover. They don’t have a budget of their own. They’re going to vote against their own president’s budget later today and they’re going to vote against every budget Republicans put up.”

Obama, congressional leaders talk about debt

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid fired back, saying the Senate had already agreed to funding levels for 2013 and was too busy to deal with “stunt budgets” offered by Republicans.

“We can’t afford to waste any time,” Reid said. “Yet today Republicans will force the Senate to waste a day on a series of political show votes.”

Republicans commandeered the floor by taking advantage of a seldom-used Senate rule that allows any senator to offer a budget if the Budget Committee has not passed a budget resolution by April 1.

In this case, Republicans called up five budgets: one that closely mirrored President Obama’s budget proposal submitted earlier this year; another, authored by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, which the House approved; and three from very conservative senators aimed at making drastic reductions to entitlements costs, government spending and taxes.

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