The Senate has just voted to not waive a Budget Act point of order raised against the Sessions-McCaskill amendment (#3337) to the Senate jobs bill. The amendment would institute discretionary spending caps. The vote was 59-41. Sixty votes were needed to waive the point of order. If the point of order were waived, the Senate would have proceeded to voting on approving the amendment. CRFB supports spending caps.
Given the present economic and political climate, many are eying Constitutional changes to help improve the budget situation.
In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, Representatives Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Mike Pence (R-IN) proposed a Spending Limit Amendment to the Constitution. The amendment would limit federal spending to one-fifth of the economy. The limit could only be waived by a two-thirds vote in Congress or a declaration of war.
Highway to Nowhere – Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) has blocked a vote on temporarily extending unemployment and COBRA benefits, the Medicare “doc fix” as well as some surface transportation programs funded through the Highway Trust Fund because the $10 billion cost is not offset. He wants unused economic stimulus funds to cover the cost. The Department of Transportation has furloughed 2,000 workers in response.
Today, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid introduced a second jobs bill, following the first $16 billion jobs bill (-$1.1 billion 11-year deficit impact) that passed the Senate on Wednesday. According to the CBO, this bill would provide about $10 billion for temporary extensions in existing measures, including unemployment insurance benefits, COBRA health subsidies, and Medicare physician payments.
Rescuing us from the disaster that is the U.S. tax code while reducing the federal debt will require nothing short of a superhuman feat; Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Judd Gregg (R-NH) stepped up today to the challenge with a new tax proposal.
Earlier today, Senators Judd Gregg (R-NH), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) released what they call A Bipartisan Plan for Tax Fairness.
Commission Commencement – President Obama signed Thursday the Executive Order officially creating the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. He also named former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erksine Bowles and former Republican Senator Alan Simpson as the bipartisan co-chairs of the panel.
Snow Job – Just hours after Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) announced they had reached a deal on a jobs bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) plowed it under, saying it was too bloated with provisions not related to creating jobs. The Senate will consider the scaled-down version Reid crafted on February 22 when it returns from its week-long President’s Day recess.