By Walter Alarkon - 03/09/10 05:24 PM EST
In a rare 100-0 roll call vote, the Senate adopted an amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) that would create a running tally on the secretary of the Senate's website of any new mandatory spending that isn’t paid for through offsetting spending cuts or tax increases.
Under the pay-as-you-go, or pay-go, law passed last month with only Democratic votes, Congress is supposed to offset new spending or tax cuts so that it isn’t adding to the country's record $12.4 trillion debt.
“It's about transparency in the Senate, being honest with the American people,”
“I think this is a step toward transparency,” said Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.),
who urged his colleagues to back the GOP amendment.
Coburn’s amendment is attached to a $148 billion bill that further extends unemployment aid and other expiring tax provisions. Senate leaders are hoping to pass that legislation this week, but the House has yet to consider it.
Coburn wasn't optimistic over the chances his proposal will end up becoming law.
"Minutes after the Senate accepted my amendment to post its violations of PAYGO online, Senators signaled their intent to remove this amendment from the bill before it goes to the president," Coburn said in a statement.
Coburn is worried that Democrats will instead include an amendment by Baucus that requires the Secretary of the Senate to create a new website that links to Congressional Budget Office information, Coburn's office said. The proposed new website would only be updated every three months.
The Baucus amendment was adopted earlier on Tuesday via voice vote.
If Congress passes the unemployment aid and tax extenders bill, it will have
approved $120 billion in spending that isn't paid for since the pay-go law was
signed by President Barack Obama, Coburn said.
Immediately after adopting that measure, centrist Democrats joined with Republicans to vote against a motion exempting an increase in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families from the pay-go law. The motion to waive the pay-go law failed on a 45-55 vote.
The push for transparency comes amid a mounting budget deficit.
Annual deficits will average nearly $1 trillion over the next decade, due in large part to revenues reduced by the recession and tax cuts, according to a Congressional Budget Office report released Friday.
-- This article was updated at 5:22 p.m.