This was a vote on a Republican amendment to cut $11 billion in spending from the federal budget. The cut would have exempted a few selected programs like the military.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) offered the amendment during consideration of the federal transportation bill, which funds roads, bridges, public transit, and other transportation projects around the nation.
Most federal funding for transportation comes from the tax on gasoline. However, in recent years the gas tax has not raised enough money to keep up with demands for federal transportation funding. Congress has directed funding from other sources to make up the difference.
Sen. Corker argued that Congress must take steps to cut spending rather than use “budget gimmicks” to pay for road construction. His amendment would have used the $11 billion spending cut to make up the shortfall in transportation funding.
“Sadly, this bill simply kicks the can down the road, making it harder to implement the kind of deficit reduction plan for which so many in the Senate expressed support multiple times in this session,” Sen. Corker argued in a Washington Post column before the vote. “We can either spend less on highways or we can spend less on something else. For Congress to spend more than it is taking in is not rational and would demonstrate that neither party is ready to lead.”
Opponents of the amendment said it violated an agreement on the budget that Congress and the White House had reached just months earlier. Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) criticized Sen. Corker for trying to take an unbalanced approach to deficit reduction – calling for spending cuts but no tax increases.
“Clearly, there was an opportunity here to present a balanced approach,” Sen. Inouye said. “But that would require hard work and compromise, and this amendment requires neither.”
Because Sen. Corker’s amendment would have violated rules that affect changes to the federal budget, Senate Roll Call 44 was a vote on a motion to set aside those budget rules. The motion was defeated by a 40-58 vote, effectively killing Sen. Corker’s amendment. Voting “yea” were 40 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 53 Democrats and 5 Republicans. As a result, the Senate rejected Sen. Corker’s amendment to cut $11 billion in federal spending.