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U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (R) is photographed as he talks to reporters about the senate's vote on debt ceiling legislation at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, August 2, 2011. Congress buried the specter of a debt default by finally pass
In the early hours of Saturday morning, the Senate passed their $3.7 trillion budget, 50-49. Four Democrats,  Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AR), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Max Baucus (D-MT) and Mark Begich (D-AK), all up for reelection in 2014, voted against it.

The marathon vote took 13 hours, ending at about 5:00 AM Saturday morning. More than 500 amendments were filed (you can see the crazy list here), but there ended up being just 70 votes on 101 amendments—many were combined and voted on en bloc by voice vote to try to speed the process up.

The budget had been a key demand of House Republicans for agreeing to a three-month delay in raising the debt ceiling. The budget itself is non-binding and since the spending levels for government agencies was already set by the Budget Control Act debt-ceiling deal, it was mostly a political statement. But after months and months of demands from Republicans for a Senate budget, what was their reaction?

When Rep. Paul Ryan, the top Republican on the House Budget Committee, saw the document, he said, “Their budget never balances—ever. It simply takes more from hardworking families to spend more in Washington. It ignores the drivers of our debt. It continues the raid on Medicare. And it imperils the health and retirement security our seniors need.”

When the budget passed, Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, said, “The Democratic Caucus has produced a budget here that won’t work. It does not meet the challenge of our time.”

Note that the Ryan budget contains that same "raid on Medicare" that Ryan included in his previous budget, and that he ran against at the top of GOP's 2012 ticket. Not that you could expect an honest response from Republicans to this budget, but Ryan's response is still pretty remarkable given his budgetary flim-flam. With this part of the debt-ceiling agreement completed, the rest of the wrangling over the sequester and the debt-ceiling hike can continue. After a nice, two-week holiday recess.

10:53 AM PT: For some perspective, and an indication of the Republican gamesmanship on this, throwing every possible political insanity (U.S. out of the UN? Rand Paul had it. Abortion? David Vitter was on it) into the mix.

The term “vote-orama” officially entered the Senate lexicon in 1977, according to the Senate historian’s office. By 2009, it had become ridiculous enough to prompt a hearing to demand changes. At that time, Democratic and Republican Budget Committee leaders lamented a process that had gone off the rails. In 2006, senators submitted 87 amendments. In 2007, there were 91, in 2008, 113.

This year, there were more than 500.


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Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 08:33 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.


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