House and Senate Approve Obama Budget

The House of Representatives yesterday passed the additional $3.66 trillion Obama spending orgy proposed as a budget by a vote of 233-196 with no Republican support.  The unanimous Republican opposition had bipartisan support from 20 Democrats who jumped ship to vote with Republicans.  Two Republicans were not present to vote for medical reasons.  The 20 Democrats voting “no” are as follows:  Barrow, Boren, Bright, Childers, Donnelly (IN), Griffith, Foster, Kosmas, Kratovil, Kucinich, Markey (CO), Marshall, Matheson, McIntyre, Minnick, Mitchell, Nye, Perrielo, Taylor, Teague.

An earlier amendment by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), ranking Republican on the House Committee on the Budget, which offered the Republican budget alternative, went down to defeat 197-293. Ryan had been doing the heavy lifting as primary author of the alternative budget and gave impassioned speeches from the floor throughout the debate on the bill.

On the Senate side, voting and deal cutting continued on the 240 amendments offered to the budget resolution that, if all voted on by roll call vote, would have held the Senate in session through Saturday.  The number of amendments was whittled down by arm twisting and side agreements for unanimous consent voice votes as the Senate’s self-titled “vote-o-rama” concluded last night around 11:45 pm with a vote on final passage affirming the resolution by a vote of 55-43.

Upon passage of this fiscal train wreck in the making, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said, “Over bipartisan opposition, Democrats in Congress passed a budget that clears the way for massive amounts of spending, for the biggest tax hike in history and a doubling of our already crippling national debt.  It is a budget that puts the economy on an unsustainable course.

“Although Democrats rejected several efforts to control spending, create jobs and cut the debt, Senate Republicans were able to slam the door on using the fast track process to jam through a new national energy tax. The strong bipartisan vote on this issue should serve as a clear warning to those involved in crafting the final budget: Americans vehemently oppose a new national energy tax that would hit them every time they flip on a light switch, watch TV, or drive the family car.”

Earlier in the day, the Republican alternative proffered by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) failed by a vote of 38-60.

The budget resolution was given a preferred status — even though the legislation contained 10 amendments that were deemed “corrosive” — which sidestepped the Republican’s ability to filibuster and required only a simple majority for passage.  The legislation now heads to a conference committee to be reconciled with the House resolution where Republican amendments are subject to the whim of the majority in conference committee for their inclusion.  This is also where the House version’s reconciliation instruction will be included that would leave the door wide open for the committees of jurisdiction to insert the “cap and trade” national energy tax, the government takeover of healthcare and the nationalization of student loans.  

The conference reports must be passed by each Congressional body, likely on straight majority votes.  The battle will come when each committee under the sweeping instruction included in this budget outline authors the actual energy tax, socialized medicine and loan program legislation. There Republicans believe the points of order can be raised to require the 60-vote margin under the “Byrd rule.”  Because Democrats seek to go outside of the normal order of the legislative process abusing a budget reconciliation loophole in order to strip Republicans of their ability to filibuster in these major legislative matters, the Senate parliamentarian will be placed in a skewed position of deciding the nation’s healthcare and energy policy as each question of a point of order that would require a 60-vote majority for passage arises.

Two separate amendments passed yesterday that would require transparency from the Federal Reserve, although only the one offered by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.) that passed by a vote of 59-39 would require the disclosure of the names of the institutions receiving over $2.2 trillion in taxpayer loans doled out by the Fed

Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) offered an amendment that passed by a vote of 65-33  that would require a 60-vote margin for any legislation that levies a national energy tax on middle-income taxpayers.

In a stunning vote, an amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to protect the freedom of conscience and the rights of health care providers to refuse to perform abortion on demand if doing so is in violation their moral and religious convictions was defeated 41-56

The outcome of votes on these and other amendments is found here

Republican Takes Lead in New York House Special Election reported last night an update from the special election:

“As voting machines are re-canvassed, Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco has picked up 37 votes, evaporating Democrat Scott Murphy’s lead in the race to replace Kirsten Gillibrand in Congress, according to county election officials who are conducting a recanvass.

Tedisco now has 77,236; Murphy has 77,224.

Tedisco trailed by 25 votes yesterday after a recanvass in Columbia County. Elections workers in Rensselaer, Dutchess, Columbia and Otsego counties looked over their tallies today. Other counties will do so in the coming days.”