Senate Republicans back plan to cap budget spending

Senate Appropriations ranking member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Senate Budget ranking member Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), also a member of the appropriations panel, said they support language in a letter sent Tuesday to Senate Appropriations Democrats. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday, “we’ve increased discretionary spending 17 percent since the president came to office. If you look at just the domestic discretionary spending, we’ve increased it 24 percent.” 

“So we’re pleased to announce today that we’re going to recommend a smaller pie, if you will, a smaller discretionary spending budget to our friends in the majority and hope they will join us.” 

Gregg said committee members agreed to back the issue and informed their Republican colleagues during lunch today. The plan also has Democratic support — from possibly up to 18 lawmakers. 

Sessions and McCaskill tried to push through the plan earlier this year but were unsuccessful. 

As Congress moves forward without a budget plan, setting spending limits seemed like a viable option, lawmakers said. 

McCaskill and Sessions offered the amendment in May to the supplemental spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The provision will need two-thirds support, so 34 senators could vote against the cap and kill it. 

“Since this Democratic Congress has not produced a budget for next year, the first job of the Appropriations Committee is to decide how much to spend,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.

“The Sessions-McCaskill freeze is an important first step to rein in federal spending. The next step should be getting entitlement spending under control.”

—This story was first published at 2:56 p.m.