The Senate voted today to block the House-passed “Cut, Cap and Balance” legislation from even being brought to a vote on passage. A procedural motion to “table” a “motion to proceed” on the measure passed 51 to 46 on party lines.
Reps. Tim Huelskamp (R., Kan.) and Jeff Duncan (R., S.C.) led a delegation of roughly a dozen House Republican freshman to the Senate floor to observe the proceedings during the vote.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) said Thursday it would be a “waste of the Senate’s time” to debate the measure any further, adding that he thought the bill was “perhaps some of the worst legislation in the history of this country.” Reid had initially schedule the vote for Saturday, but decided to move it up at the last minute.
“Senator Reid’s scramble to vote on this bill a day earlier than previously announced shows that Cut, Cap, and Balance is quickly gaining momentum,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, which was largely responsible for drafting the legislation. “Senate Democrats should stop hiding behind a procedural vote to block a plan with two-to-one support from the American public. So long as it has the support of the American people, Cut, Cap, and Balance remains very much alive.”
At a press conference moments before the Senate vote, House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) and other House GOP leaders said if the Senate didn’t like “Cut, Cap, and Balance” as written, they should amend it and send it back. “Senate Democrats have defied the will of the American people who overwhelmingly support real spending cuts, caps on future spending, and a balanced budget to create a better environment for private-sector job growth,” Boehner said. “To help avoid a default, I urge the Senate to rethink their decision and immediately approve the responsible, balanced, House-passed ‘Cut, Cap, & Balance’ proposal.”
“The Senate and the president are in meltdown,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) told reporters. “They have not figured out what they’re going to do. They have no plan, they haven’t put anything on a piece of paper. And the clock is ticking.”
UPDATE: Shortly after the Senate voted to kill “Cut, Cap and Balance,” Harry Reid announced that the he would not, as previously planned, keep the Senate in session over the weekend, citing the apparent progress in negotiations between President Obama and John Boehner.
Reid also suggested that the contingency plan he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) had been discussing was no longer necessary because of these developments. “It looked earlier this week like the Senate would have to originate the legislation perhaps as soon as today to avoid default,” he said. “During the course of the week, circumstances have changed. The Speaker of the House and the President have been working to reach agreement on a major deficit-reduction measure. I wish them both very well.”
Because the package under discussion includes tax increases as well as spending cuts, Reid claimed, and due to the Constitutional requirement that all revenue bills originate in the lower chamber, “the path to avert default now runs first to the House of Representatives…We in the Senate must wait for them.”
Reid said he expects “all kinds of meetings going on” over the weekend, barely able to contain his bitterness for being left out of the negotiations.
UPDATE II: Sen. Jim DeMint (R., S.C.) vows to continue the fight and force another vote on “Cut, Cap and Balance”:
The bipartisan House-passed Cut, Cap, Balance bill remains the only plan on the table, the only one that preserves our AAA rating, and is only four Democrat votes away from a Senate majority to end this debt crisis,” said Senator DeMint. “I will work to force another vote on Cut, Cap & Balance next week because the President and Democrats have not offered the American people any other viable solution.
It is outrageous that every Senate Democrat voted against even allowing a debate on balancing the budget within 10 years, a plan supported by two-thirds of Americans with wide support across all party lines. Why are Senate Democrats so afraid to debate a balanced budget? Cut, Cap, Balance is the compromise plan that passed the House and can end the wasteful spending that caused this debt crisis. It gives the President the debt limit increase he has asked for in return for immediate spending cuts, enforceable spending caps, and a constitutional amendment to force Washington to stop spending more than it brings in.
“The President and Democrats have been beyond reckless in this debate, refusing to offer any serious solution to our fiscal crisis. The only plan the President has offered would increase our debt by $10 trillion and push our nation into bankruptcy.
I urge Republican leaders to stop letting the President to drag you back like children into secret meetings where he pretends to do something constructive. The President created this crisis by irresponsible spending and borrowing that has left our economy in shambles, and if he’s unwilling to simply agree to balance the budget in 10 years then he is not a credible negotiating partner.
No more closed door meetings, no more phony compromises that don’t solve the problem, no more useless commissions. We have a balanced approach supported by a bipartisan House majority that ends our debt crisis if just four Senate Democrats would keep their promise and support a balanced budget.
We must pass Cut, Cap & Balance to keep our nation from falling off a fiscal cliff.
UPDATE III: Speaker Boehner delivered a rare speech on the House floor in response to the Senate’s actions. His remarks:
Mr. Speaker, there is a huge gulf between Washington, D.C. and the American people. They are dealing with tough times. They’re struggling to pay their bills. And they look to Washington, they see politicians who can’t stop spending money – their money.
Listen, we’re broke. We need to stop the out-of-control spending spree that’s going on in Washington, D.C.
The House has acted. We passed a bill that raised the debt limit, cuts spending, puts in place real reforms in place, and requires Congress send to the states a Balanced Budget Amendment. It’s called ‘cut, cap, and balance.’
We’ve done our job. The Democrats who run Washington have done nothing. They can’t stop spending the American people’s money. They won’t and they refuse.
The Senate Majority Leader says they still won’t offer a plan to cut spending. Or a plan to raise the debt limit. Frankly, that’s irresponsible.
Mr. Speaker, where is their plan? “President Obama talks about being ‘the adult in the room.’ But where is his plan to cut spending and raise the debt limit?
We’re in the fourth quarter – and we’re fighting for jobs, we’re fighting for the future, we’re fighting for the American people.