MarketWatch reported The Senate moved toward final votes Tuesday on two controversial measures to be addressed before it can leave town for the year. The first vote, which may happen later today, is on a package of $40 billion in spending cuts as part of a budget plan. A separate show down vote may take place Wednesday over allowing oil and gas exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The votes are expected to be so close that Vice President Dick Cheney cut short a trip to the Middle East to return to Washington in case he's needed to break a tie.
The spending measure cuts funding for several entitlement programs. The measure was approved by the House early Monday by a vote of 212-206. The spending cuts would affect Medicare and funding for student loans. Republicans say the cuts are necessary to trim the budget that has been impacted by the costs of the Gulf Coast hurricanes. Democrats argue that the cuts will disproportionately affect the poor and the elderly.
We need spending cuts, but we need a lot more than $40B over 5 years.The budget cut package had been held up over opposition to a provision to allow oil exploration in Alaska. But Congressional Republicans last week moved the ANWR language to a defense spending bill.
That was a mistake. The Senate had already approved ANWR drilling in the budget bill.Senate Democrats who oppose opening ANWR to drilling were enraged by the tactic and vow to attempt to defeat the measure. The House approved the $453 billion defense bill by a 308-106 vote. Moving the Alaska provision onto the defense bill was "absolutely wrong," said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid on the Senate floor Monday. Democrats believe putting the Alaska measure on the defense bill is a violation of Senate rules.
I don't know about it being a violation of the Senate rules, but I agree it was absolutely wrong. They should have left it on the budget bill the Senate had already approved."If this goes forward, it will be a dark day in the history of the Senate," he said.
Considering how some Senators are behaving, like fillibustering the Patriot Act, which had already been approved by a House/Senate committee, perhaps the Senate needs some dark days.But getting the votes necessary to block the defense bill may be difficult. It includes popular provisions to help rebuild the hurricane damaged Gulf Coast region.