Thursday, March 10, 2011

HR 1 Fails in Senate

Yesterday the Senate voted on HR 1, the FY 2011 continuing resolution that would have provided funding for the federal government until October 1st. Under a deal worked out in advance the Senate voted upon both the House approved version of the bill and substitute language offered by Sen. Inouye (D, HI) the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Neither version got enough votes to pass.

The House (essentially Republican) version failed by a vote of 44 to 56 with three Republicans {Demint (R, SC), Lee (R, UT) and Paul (R, KY)} voting in the negative. The Senate (essentially Democratic) version failed by a vote of 42 to 58 with ten Democrats and one Independent voting in the negative.

The twin votes demonstrate the problem Congress is going to have with budget matters this session. The three negative Republican votes on the House version were probably votes in favor of further cuts. The negative Democratic votes on the Senate version went both ways; some thought that the cuts in that version were too much while others thought that the cuts did not go far enough.

The votes were less close than they appeared because the agreement to allow the two versions to be considered required a 3/5ths majority for passage. This is the same hurdle as would have been required to close debate on the bill without the agreement. This shows how much work has to be done on a compromise to develop a version of the FY 2011 budget that can pass in both Houses.

Various news agencies are reporting that there will be another short term continuing resolution offered in the House to allow more time to negotiate a full term bill that can be passed in both Houses. What will be interesting to see is if that new short term resolution will have more cuts than the previous short term bill as some Republicans are suggesting. There will be some point where the increasing cuts in the short term bill will be unacceptable to Democrats in the Senate.

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