There’s got to be some way to create a legislative scorecard on committee votes.
Last month, House Republicans almost unanimously passed the “Ryan” budget resolution for FY 2013. It established the topline discretionary spending level at $1.028 trillion, just $15 billion below last year’s levels and $19 billion below the cap set in the Budget [Out of] Control Act. To put that in perspective, the discretionary spending level was as low as $933 billion in 2008 – pre-Obama. We’re not exactly going back to the last century here.
Yet, even these modest cuts were too much for Obama. Earlier this week, he threatened to veto any appropriations bill that reflects the spending figures in the Ryan budget as opposed to those working with the $1.047 cap of the BCA. We would all expect Mitch McConnell to side with the House Republicans and the impregnable Ryan budget over Obama and Reid, right?
Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up an overall spending bill that sets the discretionary caps pursuant to the BCA – just like Obama demanded. The vote? 27-2! This from, CQ:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky joined all but two of the GOP appropriators present and all Democrats in setting total discretionary spending for fiscal 2013 at $1.047 trillion, the limit established under the law (PL 112-25).
McConnell, who has kept his seat on the Appropriations Committee, did not attend Thursday’s markup, but he had given his permission for Thad Cochran of Mississippi, the panel’s ranking Republican, to give his aye by proxy on this vote.
Republicans Jerry Moran of Kansas and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin voted against the budgetary caps, which are up slightly from the current fiscal year’s overall $1.043 trillion level. Another GOP appropriator, Mark Steven Kirk of Illinois, is recovering from a stroke and did not attend the markup.
In a few months we will be in the midst of the annual budget battle, but we must not forget that the Democrats in the Senate will only have their superior leverage due to the committee work of McConnell and his fellow travelers.
Let’s not kid ourselves about Republicans winning back the Senate. If McConnell remains party leader and he is joined by a new batch of big-government types like David Dewhurst, Jon Bruning, Tommy Thompson, and Rick Berg, nothing will change. They will all talk about balancing the budget, but it is this type of committee work that ensures that the budget will never be balanced. All the aforementioned candidates will serve as conduits for McConnell and the big appropriators.
We clearly need new leaders who are willing to stack the important committees with conservatives. To accomplish that, we must elect more conservatives to the Senate.