This vote was on a motion to bring up for consideration a controversial budget proposal that calls for steep cuts in spending and taxes, transforms Medicare into a voucher program for future senior citizens, and repeals President Obama’s health reform law.
Republicans sought to bring to the Senate floor a budget proposal that had been passed by the Republican-led House of Representatives. The budget, authored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), was controversial because it would cut spending on programs not related to national defense, and force defense-related programs to grow at a slower rate. It would also repeal some of President Obama’s signature achievements, such as health care reform and new regulations on Wall Street. Corporate and personal income tax rates would be cut. It would change Medicare for future beneficiaries from a guaranteed insurance plan into a voucher program, while the Medicaid program would provide states with less funding and more freedom to reduce benefits or raise eligibility standards.
Republicans argued that Rep. Ryan’s budget would take aggressive but critically necessary steps to address the growing national debt.
“At a time when our nation has never, ever faced a deeper, more dangerous systemic debt threat than we face today, the Republican House, under the leadership of Congressman Paul Ryan, has produced a budget that would change the debt course of America, create economic growth, put us on a path to financial stability, and do the things that a responsible budget should do,” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said. “People can disagree with this or that portion of it. I think this budget is a historic step in the right direction for this great republic, and I urge my colleagues to support it.”
Opponents of the motion argued that the Senate did not need to pass a budget resolution because a law passed the previous year had already laid out a budget for Congress to follow. Even if the Senate did pass a budget, they argued, the House Republican plan would be the wrong way to go because it favors wealthy Americans and throws senior citizens and the middle class under the bus.
“This budget plan, the House Republican plan, ends Medicare as we know it,” Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) said. “All the while, it provides $1 trillion of additional tax cuts to the wealthiest among us. It gives millionaires, on average, an additional tax cut of $150,000 a year. In addition, it cuts health care by $3 trillion and increases the number of uninsured in our country by 30 million people. I urge my colleagues to reject this budget proposal.”
The motion to consider Rep. Ryan’s budget proposal was defeated by a vote of 41-58. Voting “yea” were 41 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 53 Democrats and 5 Republicans. As a result, the Senate defeated the effort to bring up for consideration a controversial budget proposal that called for steep cuts in spending and taxes, transformed Medicare into a voucher program for future senior citizens, and repealed President Obama’s health reform law.