Just over two weeks ago, Republicans in both chambers of Congress voted to pass budget resolutions that would have achieved balance in ten years. But this week 12 Republicans joined Senate Democrats to kill a simple amendment that would have required them to pay for a new bill, thus ensuring that the bill will add at least $140 billion to our deficit spending over the next decade.
The bill they were voting to amend, H.R. 2, was already full of flaws. Although it permanently prevented scheduled cuts in Medicare payments to doctors, it placed even more regulatory burdens on doctors, reauthorized the children’s insurance entitlement (S-CHIP) for two years, and added tens of billions to the deficit.
Senator Mike Lee offered a modest proposal: shouldn’t senators, at the very least, pay for this bill? Haven’t Republicans pledged to reduce the size of government and its out-of-control spending? So he introduced an amendment that would have simply invoked Congress’ statutory pay-as-you-go rule. If the amendment passed, Congress would have had to find spending reductions to offset the costs of the bill by the end of the year, or else an across-the-board cut would occur.
Because of the type of amendment, it was subject to only a 51-vote threshold, rather than the 60 votes needed for so many bills in the Senate. One might have assumed that passing the amendment would have been easy, given that only 51 votes were needed out of 54 Republicans and a couple dozen Democrats who voted to pass this very pay-as-you-go requirement back in 2010.
Instead, 12 Republicans joined with every Democrat to doom this simple spending reform. You can see the full vote HERE. The 12 were:
Lamar Alexander (TN)
Shelley Moore Capito (WV)
Bill Cassidy (LA)
Thad Cochran (MS)
Susan Collins (ME)
John Cornyn (TX)
Lindsey Graham (SC)
Orrin Hatch (UT)
Dean Heller (NV)
Mitch McConnell (KY)
David Perdue (GA)
Thom Tillis (NC)
This is not the sort of government-limiting behavior that nearly every Republican in Congress has promised to display. With a debt already at $18 trillion and with deficits already on the rise again even before this bill, the above senators have a good deal of explaining to do.