Senate Budget Committee Passes Budget Resolution With Larger Spending Cuts

On Thursday, the Senate Budget Committee passed the FY2011 budget resolution on a 12-10 vote. As predicted, the resolution calls for $4 billion in discretionary spending cuts, on top of President Obama's budget, which already proposed a non-security discretionary spending freeze for the next few fiscal years. The Committee's budget resolution would reduce the deficit to $575 billion in 2015, down from its current level of $1.4 trillion. Since OMB Watch already came out against the President's budget proposal as fiscally irresponsible, it's disappointing that the Budget Committee felt it necessary to outdo the President in spending cuts at a time when unemployment is still in the double-digits.

Interestingly, the vote was not along party lines, as Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) joined all of the committee's Republicans in voting against the resolution. Feingold argued that the resolution "did not go far enough to put our fiscal house back in order," noting that the resolution weakens PAYGO rules by exempting some of the Bush tax cuts, and does not pay for extending the AMT relief, despite the fact that this relief will almost certainly happen.

Other provisions in the resolution include a Feingold-sponsored amendment requiring that Iraq and Afghanistan war costs be paid for, and an amendment to redirect some unspent Troubled Asset Relief Program funding. The committee also rejected an amendment from Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), which sought to impose discretionary budget caps, indicating that the spending cuts in the budget resolution might have taken some of the wind out of Republicans' sails when it comes to arguing for less spending.

Finally, the budget resolution also included reconciliation instructions for the Senate Finance Committee, which, if you read our latest Watcher article, you would know is a good thing.

The budget resolution could come to the Senate floor as soon as next week. We'll see how much trouble Republicans give it on the floor, and if many Democrats join Feingold in rebuffing the resolution. For their part, House Democrats are hoping to have their budget resolution passed by the Memorial Day recess.

Image by Flickr user mchlmbrk used under a Creative Commons license.

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