What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Insuring Government Has Adequate Financing to Function : A vote on passage of an amendment to the fiscal year 2005 budget resolution (S.Con.Res. 95) that would restore the Senate's pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules, and require 60 votes in the Senate for the chamber to be able to pass any direct spending or revenue legislation that would increase the federal deficit. (2004 senate Roll Call 38)
 Who: All Members
[POW!]
 

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A vote on passage of an amendment to the fiscal year 2005 budget resolution (S.Con.Res. 95) that would restore the Senate's pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules, and require 60 votes in the Senate for the chamber to be able to pass any direct spending or revenue legislation that would increase the federal deficit.
senate Roll Call 38     Mar 10, 2004
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

Senate progressives scored a narrow but crucial victory with an amendment to the fiscal year 2005 budget resolution (S.Con.Res. 95) offered by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), that would restore the Senate's pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules, and require 60 votes in the Senate for the chamber to be able to pass any direct spending or revenue legislation that would increase the federal deficit. A budget resolution sets overarching limits on spending and on tax cuts that apply to legislation developed by individual committees - including the appropriations committees, tax-writing committees, and other committees that have jurisdiction over certain spending programs - as well as to any amendments offered to such legislation on the House or Senate floor. PAYGO is a Senate rule that governs tax cuts and entitlement spending, and dictates that tax cuts must be balanced out with revenue increases elsewhere. A weakened version of this PAYGO rule, agreed to in 2003, required tax cuts and entitlement spending increases to be fully offset, or "paid for," unless, however, the tax cuts or spending still fit within the numerical targets in the budget resolution. For instance, if the budget resolution allows for a total of $300 billion in new tax cuts and entitlement increases combined, then any bill costing $300 billion or less does not have to be paid for under the new PAYGO rule. However, under Feingold's amendment, tax cuts and new entitlement spending would have to be offset with revenue increases or spending cuts -- period. "Reinstating the pay-as-you-go rule makes it harder for this body to make the deficit worse," Feingold said. "It does not prohibit these tax cuts. It does not make it impossible to have a tax cut. It just makes it a little harder. That is as it should be. Given our current budget position, we ought to make it harder to make the deficit worse. If new tax cuts or new mandatory spending is not to be offset, then they ought to be only the most worthy of policies, not just anything that can get a majority vote. They ought to be policies that can achieve the 60 votes," Feingold reasoned. Conservatives urged a "no" vote on the amendment, saying the Republican-drafted bill already contained similar deficit restraints and fiscal discipline. They also argued that the Feingold proposal would virtually guarantee that most of the recent tax cuts would expire and Americans would see substantial tax increases over the next decade. With four Republicans, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) coming to the aid of progressive backers of the amendment, it was adopted 51-48, meaning that a senator must secure a 60-vote supermajority if he or she hopes to pass new tax cut or spending legislation that is not directly paid for elsewhere in the budget either through new tax hikes or other revenue raisers.

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