The U.S. Senate voted today on proposals to avoid automatic across-the-board spending cuts, but the measures seem unlikely to change anything. A Democratic measure would have canceled the $85 billion in cuts, and replaced them with a combination of tax increases and cuts to defense and farm programs that would phase in over a decade. A Republican alternative would require Obama to propose an alternative that relied exclusively on spending cuts, ruled out tax increases and limited what he could take from Pentagon accounts.
Virginia’s two Senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, explain their votes and their thoughts below:
“I voted for the Reid proposal because I favored its 50/50 blend of targeted spending cuts and new revenues, which would have avoided sequester and moved us further toward a balanced approach to fix the debt. I voted for the Republican counterproposal because it would have provided flexibility in making the required cuts. While I continue to work for a broad, balanced and bipartisan approach to deficits and debt, both of these approaches represented a less stupid approach than sequestration and its disproportionate impact on Virginia.”
“Today, the Senate acted on two bills related to the harmful sequestration cuts scheduled to take effect tomorrow. I voted to support consideration of a bill that offered a balanced, specific and accountable approach to replace these cuts entirely. And I voted against consideration of an all cuts approach that would shock Virginia’s economy.
“I supported the Murray/Mikulski bill because it offered a specific alternative to replace the first year of the sequester with a balanced package of targeted spending cuts and revenue. Then, the Senate would return to a normal, annual budgeting process to find the appropriate mix of spending, taxes and deficit reduction in future years. While still involving significant spending cuts, the bill’s balanced inclusion of new revenue reduced these cuts by half, thus protecting defense and other key priorities. I opposed the Inhofe/Toomey proposal because it would in no way reduce the number of Virginians who stand to be impacted by the sequester. It would leave massive cuts in place and hurt everyone from sailors and pilots in Norfolk, to shipbuilders in Newport News, to teachers across the Commonwealth.
“I believe there is still time to replace the sequester and find a way to let the budget process work the way it’s supposed to. Congress and the Administration need to stay at the table, debate budgetary proposals and find compromise. In the days to come, we can and must find a way to replace sequester cuts and continue the process well underway of writing the first Congressional budget since 2009.”