What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Adequate Government Funding for a Broad Range of Human Needs : H J Res 45. (Increasing the debt limit) Sessions of Alabama amendment that would create new limits on congressional spending equal to the levels in the fiscal 2010 budget resolution that sets spending targets for the federal government/On agreeing to the amendment (2010 senate Roll Call 11)
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H J Res 45. (Increasing the debt limit) Sessions of Alabama amendment that would create new limits on congressional spending equal to the levels in the fiscal 2010 budget resolution that sets spending targets for the federal government/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 11     Jan 28, 2010
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote was on an amendment by Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., that would create new limits on congressional spending equal to the levels laid out by the fiscal 2010 budget resolution, which sets out spending targets for the federal government.  It also would limit spending on overseas deployments of U.S. military forces.  The amendment was offered to a bill that would increase the U.S. government’s statutory debt limit by $1.9 trillion to $14.29 trillion.

Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., spoke in favor of the amendment for Sessions.  McCaskill said “all the amendment is doing is asking us to live up to our vote last year on the budget bill.”

“What we all decided to do last year on the budget bill was set some limits on spending for the next few years. All we are doing with this amendment is saying we are going to have to live up to our vote. It has 2 percent increases every year,” McCaskill said.  “Seriously, it is time we begin to live up to what we say, and in the budget bill we all voted to do this.”

The budget resolution is a document that outlines Congress’ spending priorities each fiscal year.  It is not binding, though other pieces of legislation that are in conflict with the budget resolution’s goals or rules can technically be defeated more easily with parliamentary maneuvers.  However, the resolution’s spending limits and other budgetary rules can also be waived if 60 senators vote to do so, making it largely unenforced unless the majority wants it to be.

Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, said he agrees that everyone should tighten their belts.

“The problem with this amendment is that all the tightening will be done on a small portion of the budget, while the revenues and mandatory spending will still be unchecked,” Inouye said.  “This is a flawed amendment.” 

Mandatory spending is a class of funds that must go in certain amounts to certain programs, by law; Congress has no control over the amounts that get spent.  The prime examples of mandatory spending are Medicare and Social Security.

By a vote of 56-44, the amendment was rejected.  Though more voted yes than no, this particular vote required 60 in order to deem it approved.  All but one Republican present voted for the amendment.   Of Democrats present, 16 voted for the amendment and 42 voted against it (including the most progressive members).

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