Senate rejects deficit reduction commission

The 53-46 vote fell seven votes shy of the necessary 60 under an agreement both parties reached Monday night, and represented deep divisions on both sides of the aisle. A group of 37 Democrats and 16 Republicans supported the commission, while 23 Republicans and 23 Democrats opposed it.

ADVERTISEMENT
The vote defeated an amendment by Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and ranking member Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) that would have created an 18-member panel to propose spending and reduction policies.

The amendment’s defeat was largely expected. President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaFormer GOP lawmaker says Obama got elected because he was black To woo black voters in Georgia, Dems need to change their course of action 2018 midterms: The blue wave or a red dawn? MORE belatedly endorsed the concept over the weekend, but favors an executive-created panel, which his administration is now likely to propose.

Senators who supported the idea of a commission said they were frustrated at congressional inaction in reining in federal spending.

“We’ve got to do something. Everybody keeps saying, ‘Let Congress do it,’ but we haven’t done it,” said Sen. Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziSenate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Congress must take steps to help foster children find loving families Singer Jason Mraz: Too much political 'combat' in Washington MORE (R-Wyo.). “This commission would have given me a lot of assurance.”

Gregg, in a statement after the vote, called the commission’s defeat “yet another indication that Congress is more concerned with the next election than the next generation.”

“This bipartisan task force is the best and most realistic option for tackling our tremendous levels of debt,” Gregg said. “To discard it is a major setback for the future generations of Americans who will be left to pay down our debt at the expense of their standard of living and future economic growth.”

But others, such as Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainPutting the 'I' in president To woo black voters in Georgia, Dems need to change their course of action Senate panel again looks to force Trump’s hand on cyber warfare strategy MORE (R-Ariz.), opposed the idea because the panel could have recommended revenue-increasing strategies such as higher taxes.

“I want a spending commission, and I worry that this commission could have gotten together and agreed to increase taxes,” said McCain. “Spending cuts are what we need. We don’t need to raise taxes."

Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranMississippi Democrat drops Senate bid Dems look to keep up momentum in upcoming special elections Chamber of Commerce makes play in Mississippi Senate race for Hyde-Smith MORE (R-Miss.), ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, also argued against losing congressional influence over spending decisions.

“We don’t need to turn over spending to (Obama),” Cochran said. “We’re going to jealously protect our prerogatives. Congress can’t shift its responsibility to others, and that’s what we would be doing.”