McCain: A vote against budget deal lacks ‘intellectual integrity’

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday that it “lacks some intellectual integrity” to vote against the bipartisan budget deal without having an alternative to avert another government shutdown.

“I’d like to know what we do in order to avoid another shutdown of the government. The American people steadfastly reject another shutdown of the government,” McCain said on the Senate floor. “To somehow vote against it without an alternative to keep the government from shutting down, I think lacks some intellectual integrity.”

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McCain’s comments came after just 12 Republicans voted with Democrats to end debate on the budget deal negotiated by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray and her House counterpart Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

The bill sets top-line spending levels for 2014 and 2015 and reduces the sequester spending cuts by $63 billion over the next two years. Some Republicans have complained that the plan doesn’t reduce the deficit enough and replaces parts of sequestration with airline fee and pension premium increases.

“If you got a better idea bring it up. Let’s consider it and vote,” McCain said. “But right now the only alternative is a government shutdown.”

After the Senate clears the bill and the president signs it into law, appropriators will work on hashing out an omnibus spending bill for the rest of the fiscal year. Congress will need to approve that bill by mid-January to prevent a shutdown.

The Senate is expected to pass the bill after up to 30 hours of debate. If Republicans agree to yield back debate time, the vote could be held before Wednesday afternoon.