Senate quells Sessions protest against VA apropos bill


"It's to a sign that he Senate is broken, its a sign that the Senate leadership is broken," said Sessions regarding the lack of a budget. Its a sign that leadership does not the courage to stand before the American people and present a plan."

But prior to the vote Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who serves on the Senate Committee on Appropriations, argued that this funding bill, which he helped craft, should get a pass since it actually conforms to the budget already passed by House Republicans earlier this year.

"The irony here is that this legislation conforms to a budget, it conforms to the Paul Ryan House budget … I think we should move forward," said Kirk referring to the Chairman of the House Budget Committee. That budget came up for a vote in the Senate earlier in the year and failed.

Following the vote, Sessions’ office claimed victory despite losing the vote, telling The Hill that the 40 senators who stood with him in voting to sustain the objection could spell trouble for Democrats if they attempt to push further spending legislation without a budget. 

"This is a extraordinary outcome that demonstrates the depth of support in the GOP caucus for upholding the budget law," Stephen Miller, a spokesman for Sessions told The Hill. "The vote held  today on a popular measure [the VA funding bill] represents a floor and not ceiling on support behind this procedural objection."

"Senate Democrats face trouble ahead if they continue to try to move spending bills while refusing to adopt a budget plan as the law requires," he said. 

Sessions raised his point of order on Thursday and in response, Democratic Senate leadership scheduled two procedural votes that were designed to overcome his objection.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) made a motion to override the rules to which Sessions referred. The Senate then voted 71 - 26 to bring that motion to the floor. 

Following that the Senate held the vote on the actual resolution, which needed just 50 votes to pass. 

The underlying Military Construction bill, which includes VA funding, is in itself relatively noncontroversial, and Sessions has gone to pains to point out that it is not the bill's content he objects to, calling it a "piece of legislation that will be positive for our country."

H.R. 2055, the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies appropriations bill, increases funding for the VA by 5.8 percent and cuts military construction spending by $2.6 billion to reflect anticipated base closures and realignments.

This story was updated at 6:09 p.m.


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