By Ramsey Cox
“We are headed for a big multi-train pile-up,” Johanns said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “The majority would rather wash their hands of the responsibility of complying with the spending caps.”
Johanns criticized Senate Democrats for not complying with the spending levels set by law under the Budget Control Act (BCA). The BCA set spending levels for the year at $967 billion, but Democrats passed a budget that exceeded that spending level by nearly $90 billion more.
A government shutdown is possible if a short-term spending deal isn’t reached by Oct. 1. Some Republicans in the Senate, lead by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), have called on the GOP to oppose any spending deal that funds ObamaCare.
Later in the fall, the government is also expected to reach its borrowing limit. The Budget Control Act was negotiated in 2011 — the last time the debt ceiling was reached — to continue to fund the government at reduced spending rates in exchange for raising the debt ceiling by more than $2 trillion.
Johanns said that the Democrats' plan to spend at higher levels than allowed under the BCA would lead to another sequester — across the board spending cuts.
“Ignoring the BCA spending levels isn’t just free money that we can print down at the Treasury Department. It sets up yet another round of sequester cuts,” Johanns said. “Their plan is to keep spending us right into another sequester.”
Currently, the Senate is working on the first of 12 appropriations bills, S. 1243, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill, which funds government transportation and housing agencies.
Democrats chose to debate the THUD appropriations bill first to highlight the stark spending difference between the two chambers, in an effort to push Republicans into a budget conference committee.
The House and Senate THUD bills have a $10 billion spending difference — setting up the potential for a challenging conference committee. The Senate bill is $54 billion, while the House has a $44 billion bill, which is a cut of $7 billion from last year’s spending level.