Dem budget naysayers defend votes

Democrats who voted against the Senate Democratic leadership’s 2014 budget have explained their votes.

All four — Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Mark Begich (Alaska) — are up for reelection in 2014 in states where Mitt Romney beat President Obama in the 2012 presidential race.  

Centrist senators not up for reelection in 2014, such as Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.), did vote for the budget, which passed just before 5 a.m. Saturday on a 50 to 49 vote. 

The Democratic budget calls for nearly $1 trillion in new taxes, does not balance and uses a baseline that assumes the sequester stays in place. 

Hagan over the weekend said she was voting against the budget’s defense cuts.

{mosads}“[A]s a Senator from the most military-friendly state in the nation, I am concerned that the $240 billion in cuts to defense spending called for in this budget resolution are too deep,” she said. “Our military is already grappling with the deep cuts forced by sequestration this year, and in order to prevent damage to our national security and military communities I strongly believe that any further cuts should only be made in cooperation with our military leadership.”

Hagan said that more needs to be done to balance the budget. 

“Our country needs a long-term deficit reduction plan that is balanced and bipartisan, and we must work to balance the budget. I will keep working with my colleagues to get our fiscal house in order while keeping our commitment to seniors and students, to veterans and active duty service members, and to all of North Carolina’s middle class families,” she said. 

Pryor said the budget was not enough of a compromise for him.

“This budget fails to strike the right balance between cutting our spending and setting up a path for future job creation and economic growth. Instead of one-party solutions, we should work together to find a balanced approach that will benefit our economy, seniors, and middle class families,” he said in a short statement. 

Begich said the budget needed to do more on spending, and that failing to do so passes a debt burden to the next generation.

“While I am happy that Congress is finally talking seriously about our fiscal crisis, this budget didn’t go far enough,” said Begich. “Alaskans expect us to finish the job and make this staggering deficit manageable. Passing this problem off to our children is not an option. We got ourselves into this mess and have a responsibility to get ourselves out.  We can either make the tough choices now or face an even tougher road ahead.”

“I will continue to work with any of my colleagues from either party who are serious about reducing wasteful federal spending, which is what Alaskans sent me here to do,” he said. “These cuts are not only necessary, they are within reach — and I hope more of my colleagues will join me in getting this done.”

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Baucus did not issue a statement.

An aide said that the senator voted against the budget because it was not a “sensible compromise.”

“He was disappointed there was no middle ground — the fact is neither the House plan nor the Senate plan offered a sensible compromise,” the aide said. “And that is what his bosses — the people of Montana — tell him they want to see, a balanced plan that’ll bring us together, gets our economy running at full speed and creates jobs for folks in Montana and across America.”

Tags Heidi Heitkamp Joe Donnelly Joe Manchin Jon Tester Kay Hagan Mark Begich Mark Pryor Max Baucus

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