Senate on record opposing use of chained CPI

President Obama has put the new method, known as chained consumer price index, on the table in deficit talks with Republicans. Using it reduces entitlement benefits like Social Security over time and also raises revenues by reducing the value of tax breaks. 

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The vote on the amendment was by voice vote, so its usefulness in quantifying Senate opposition to the proposal is minimal. The amendment is non-binding because it is attached to the budget resolution, which does not have the force of law. 

Sens. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) Sanders2020 Democrats barnstorm the country for MLK weekend Bill Maher defends Bernie Sanders campaign over sexual harassment allegations Americans need an economy that supports more than the 1 percent MORE (I-Vt.), Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinIowa’s Ernst will run for reelection in 2020 California primary threatens to change 2020 game for Dems Mellman: Dems’ presidential pick will be chosen in a flash MORE (D-Iowa), Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoHawaii state senator to announce bid for Gabbard's House seat in 2020: report AG pick Barr emphasizes independence from Trump Hirono says she can't trust Trump on shutdown talks: 'His word is not good' MORE (D-Hawaii) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDem calls for Cohen to testify before Senate panel over explosive report Speculation swirls over candidates to succeed Rosenstein Overnight Energy: Wheeler weathers climate criticism at confirmation hearing | Dems want Interior to stop drilling work during shutdown | 2018 was hottest year for oceans MORE (D-R.I.) sponsored the amendment.

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrHillicon Valley: Senate panel subpoenas Roger Stone associate | Streaming giants hit with privacy complaints in Europe | FTC reportedly discussing record fine for Facebook | PayPal offering cash advances to unpaid federal workers Senate panel subpoenas Roger Stone associate Jerome Corsi Manafort developments trigger new ‘collusion’ debate MORE (R-N.C.) said he supported protecting veterans, but supported using chained CPI elsewhere.

“I support chained CPI, just like the president when it comes to entitlement reform,” he said.

Sanders pushed for a roll call vote, but was talked out of it by Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySen. Murray says Washington behavior reminds her of former preschool students Senate rejects government-wide ban on abortion funding Overnight Health Care: Dem chair plans hearing on Medicare for all | Senate GOP talks drug prices with Trump health chief | PhRMA CEO hopeful Trump reverses course on controversial pricing proposal MORE (D-Wash.).

The Senate then voted on a proposal by Burr to create a new barrier to any proposal to raise taxes on veterans. The Murray budget calls for $1 trillion in new tax revenue and raising that amount--or any amount in the individual tax code--could effectively be blocked by the Burr provision, Democrats argued. 

The Burr amendment was voted not germane to the bill by a 45 to 54 vote. 

The powerful seniors lobbying group AARP hailed the vote.

“With the adoption of Senator Sanders’ amendment, the Senate makes clear the need to protect retirees, veterans and others from an unwarranted cut to their benefits. Much more than a mere technical adjustment or a ‘tweak,’ the chained CPI would, over the next ten years, take a combined $146 billion out of the pockets of America’s veterans and seniors who are already living on tight budgets," it said in a statement.

--This report was updated at 10:29 p.m.