By Ramsey Cox
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) expressed anger Wednesday over the budget impasse that will likely lead to weekend votes for the Senate.
Reid wants to begin debate on the Democratic budget but has been unable to trigger the process because of a separate fight over a measure to keep the goverment funded through September.
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) blocked Reid’s motion to begin debate, demanding a vote on his amendment to the government-funding measure that would protect air traffic control towers from being closed due to sequestration.
“For the last few years, my Republican colleagues have been hollering, yelling and screaming that the Senate hasn’t pass a budget,” Reid complained on the floor. “Republicans were desperate to have a budget debate. They wanted a vote-a-rama. They had charts and speeches to prove it. They even had a calendar that they brought out here almost daily.
“I was amazed yesterday, flabbergasted, stunned, when Republicans blocked the attempt to start [on] the budget resolution.”
Reid had hoped to complete work on the spending resolution earlier this week so that the Senate could begin work on the budget. The budget fight is expected to include a vote-a-rama that will involve a lengthy series of amendments to the budget.
The Democratic budget would be the first one Senate Democrats have passed in four years. The House is expected to approve a GOP budget on Thursday, and Senate Democrats do not want to have a two-week recess where House Republicans can tout their budget while noting that Senate Democrats have yet to approve a blueprint.
Neither budget is expected to be approved by the other chamber, but the two measures would lay down markers for House Republicans and Senate Democrats.
In arguing that Moran should allow him to proceed, Reid said the automatic spending cuts in the sequester, which the Democratic budget would end, hurt all 50 states.
“The concern for the sequester isn’t focused on the delegation from Kansas — it’s all of us,” Reid said. “That’s why the Senate budget reverses the sequester.”
Democrats say their budget, drafted by Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.), cuts the deficit by $1.85 trillion over 10 years. But the GOP has said that because the accounting assumes the sequester will not happen, the amount if deficit reduction is closer to $700 billion.
Reid said he believed the public supports the Democratic plan because it uses a “balanced” approach of equal amounts of spending cuts and new revenue from closing tax loopholes for the wealthiest and corporations.
“Democrats are willing to debate the differences. We’re ready to debate the issues,” Reid said. “The American people are on our side. Let’s at least have the debate.”
This story was updated at 12:22 p.m.