This was a vote on final passage of legislation that would have funded the federal government through September 2011 (such bills are known as “continuing resolutions, or “CRs”) and cut $4.7 billion in federal funding from government programs, including scientific research initiatives, grants to states for law enforcement programs, and education programs for gifted and talented children.
[This bill was one of two continuing resolutions considered by the Senate. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives had passed a CR funding the government through September 2011 and cutting $61 billion from federal programs. Most Republicans in the House and Senate supported that bill. Senate Democrats, however, had drafted their own CR to fund the government and cut only $4.7 billion from federal programs. Thus, Senate Democrats brought up the House-passed CR and then offered their own CR as a “substitute amendment”—literally, an amendment that would have replaced the House-passed bill with the proposal favored by Senate Democrats. This vote was on that Democratic proposal.]
Sen. Ben Cardin urged support for the Senate Democrats’ CR: “Today we are faced with two alternative versions of a fiscal year 2011 funding bill. The version that came over from the other body contains an endless list of problems. It slashes fundamental programs that are important to the health and well-being of every America, unleashes attacks on our bedrock environmental laws that protect clear and safe water as well as healthy air, and undermine our efforts to reassert America's leading role in education, research and innovation. Casting a vote against this bill will be easy. The alternative bill offered by the Senate [Democrats]… is dramatically better. It is a good faith effort at tackling the deficit while maintaining critical investments in America's future. This bill, however, is not without its problems.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) also supported this bill: “As the economy continues its fragile recovery, we simply cannot afford to make dramatic spending cuts driven purely by political ideology. Unfortunately, this is the approach employed by House Republicans. I support a different course in the Senate. I believe we must pair responsible, targeted spending cuts with smart investments that will support California and the nation's economic recovery, preserve jobs and protect families. The Senate [Democratic] bill, introduced last week, takes a more pragmatic approach. Like the Republican plan, the Senate bill imposes significant spending cuts, but it does so through prudent action that will not jeopardize our Nation's economic recovery.”
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) opposed both the House-passed CR and the Senate Democrats’ CR: “The House [continuing] resolution, frankly, was not smart in the way they did the cuts. No one in any business would take all the cuts out of one small sliver of their business. They would look at their entire business to try to find cost savings. It was not smart that all the pain was in one place, and they are killing off the very part of our budget that has the best chance of increasing economic activity in this country--the building of roads and bridges, the educating of our kids, the research and the science and development….On the other hand, the Senate has not gone far enough. It is, frankly, disappointing to me…. The sweet spot is somewhere in between these two approaches.”
Sen. John Thune (R-SD) also opposed this bill: “There is an old saying that if you are in a hole, stop digging. Well, we continue to dig the hole deeper and deeper and deeper. So we are going to have votes today on a couple of alternatives. One is the alternative that was sent over from the House of Representatives which shaves $60 billion off of last year's spending level. So there are lots of people coming down here, and there is all kinds of gnashing of teeth and statements of how Draconian these various cuts are going to be….So what does the other side put forward? The other side said: Well, we think this is Draconian, and so we are going to put forward a proposal that cuts $4.7 billion--$4.7 billion compared to $60 billion. Mr. President, $4.7 billion is what the other [Democatic] side puts on the table in terms of spending reduction in trying to do something about our runaway federal debt.”
The Senate rejected this bill by a vote of 42-58. Voting “yea” were 42 Democrats—including a majority of progressives. All 47 Republicans and 11 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the Senate rejected legislation that would have funded the federal government through September 2011 and cut $4.7 billion in federal funding from government programs, including scientific research initiatives, grants to states for law enforcement programs, and education programs for gifted and talented children.