Senate

Durbin: Senate could take up 'cut, cap and balance'

Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) suggested on Wednesday that the upper chamber will take up Republicans' “cut, cap and balance” proposal later in the day.

“We are going to move this afternoon to a debate on our budget and particularly the debt ceiling we face on Aug. 2,” said Durbin from the Senate floor. 

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Senate defeats attempt to sink VA funding bill

The Senate voted 69-30 on Wednesday to table an amendment offered by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) that would have killed the Veterans Affairs (VA) funding bill. 

Vitter wanted to stop the bill because the Senate has yet to pass a budget for 2012. He argued it makes no sense to move spending measures without a budget framework approved by the Senate. 

"The point this amendment makes is a pretty simple but basic and important one,” said Vitter from the floor on Tuesday. “We don't have a concurrent budget resolution for fiscal year 2012. We're in the process of passing an appropriation bill with this bill, spending money without a budget, without a game plan, without a framework.”

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Senate could finish work on VA funding bill Wednesday

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) suggested Wednesday that the Senate could finish work on the pending Veterans Affairs (VA) appropriations bill by the end of the day.

"We hope to complete action on that bill today," Reid said.

Towards that end, the majority leader scheduled a vote for noon on a motion to table an amendment from Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) that would kill the underlying legislation by forcing it to adhere to a concurrent budget resolution for fiscal year 2012 that does not yet exist.

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Reid: We think we have a path forward on raising the debt ceiling

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday night that he believes there is now a way forward in negotiations towards raising the nation’s debt ceiling.

“We need a way, a path forward, and we think we have one, but it's certainly not complete yet,” said Reid. “It's a bicameral legislature. We're doing our very, very utmost to do this as  — as well as we can. There is no easy solution.”

Reid's office said the senator was referencing negotiations in which he is currently involved to modify Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) proposal that would put the onus on President Obama to make three separate requests to raise the debt limit. 

Under the original plan offered by McConnell, Congress could pass resolutions of disapproval to block the requests, but those actions would require two-thirds support in both chambers, to override expected presidential vetoes.

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McConnell: Senate vote on balanced-budget amendment could come this week

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that Senate Republicans are hoping for a vote on the balanced-budget amendment this week.

 “As you know, the issue on the floor next, after the Military Construction bill, will be the 'cut, cap and balance' proposal that we anticipate will pass the House tonight,” McConnell said. “The majority leader has indicated we will move to that next.”

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McConnell seeks Democratic defectors to back 'cut, cap, and balance'

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday urged Democrats to get on board with the GOP's "Cut, Cap and Balance" Act. 

“ 'Cut, cap, and balance' is the kind of tough legislation Washington needs and that Americans want, and Republicans will spend the week trying to convince Democrats to join us in supporting it," said McConnell. 

The GOP plan, which will come up for a vote in the House on Tuesday, would only accept an increase in the federal debt ceiling if immediate cuts are made, federal spending is brought back into balance over the next several years, and a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution is approved by Congress.

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Senate confirms first openly gay man to federal bench

J. Paul Oetken on Monday became the first openly gay man confirmed to the federal bench. 

The Senate approved his nomination 80 to 13.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who recommended Oetken to President Obama for the nomination to the District Court for the Southern District of New York, offered a ringing endorsement from the Senate floor prior to the roll-call vote. 

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Reid: Prospect of default 'grim' and 'scary'

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday described the prospect of Congress allowing the U.S. to default on its financial obligations as both "grim" and "scary." 

"Even those who believe government should be small enough to drown in a bathtub have to admit that a total shutdown of even the most basic and essential functions of government is scary," said Reid. 

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McConnell: If Dems don’t support balanced-budget amendment, they have ‘given up’

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday that if Democrats don't join the GOP in supporting a balanced-budget amendment, then they've "given up" on controlling government spending.

“I heard one of my Democratic colleagues say yesterday that the votes simply don’t exist to pass any bill in the Senate that balances the budget,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

 “My question is, why in the world not?” he asked.

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