The senate weighs in – and out – on a budget for Fiscal Year 2012

The Senate debates four budget proposals, but passes none.

Even though efforts are continuing outside the committee process to develop long- and short-term deficit-dropping proposals, Congressional committees are still working on the primary vehicles that define fiscal policy: the budget and appropriations bills.

On May 25, the Senate considered and rejected four different budget proposals, including the House-passed budget resolution (H. Con. Res. 34, called the “Ryan Budget” after House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan) that passed in the House in April. None of the budget plans garnered even 50 percent of the vote.  While it was widely predicted that each budget proposal would fail, and thus the votes must be considered ‘symbolic,’ still, we in the Science Government Relations Office couldn’t look away:  we had to watch and wonder about it.

  • H.Con.Res.34 was rejected 40 – 57, with five Republicans voting “nay”—Senators Brown (MA), Collins (ME), Murkowski (AK), Paul (KY), and Snowe (ME).  No Democrats voted in favor of the measure. 
  • President Obama’s budget was rejected 0-97:  again, no Democrats voted for it. 
  • The Senate rejected budget proposals by Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Patrick Toomey (R-PA). Senator Paul’s proposal (S.Con.Res.20) would bring the budget into balance in five years by sharply reducing the defense budget and eliminating four Cabinet Departments: Commerce, Education, Energy, and Housing and Urban Development.  It was defeated 7 – 90.  Sen. Toomey’s proposal (S.Con.Res.21), which would bring the budget into balance in nine years by capping spending at 18.4 percent of GDP, attracted more support (42-55, with Senators Paul and Murkowski voting “yea”).

While there has been work on a Senate version of the budget, the Senate Budget Committee Chairman, Kent Conrad (D-ND), has opted not to offer a resolution before knowing the results of a working group negotiating a deficit reduction package tied to an increase in the federal debt limit.

“The discussions that can lead to a result between now and August are the talks being led by Vice President Biden,” Sen. Conrad told The Washington Post. “That’s a process that could lead to a result — a measurable result in the short term.”