The Senate voted down deep budget cuts pushed by House Republicans, but senators also failed to agree on an alternative plan to keep the government running. Sen. Bernie Sanders voted against both bills. He said the fair way to bring down deficits is to pair cuts with more revenue. He proposed a surtax on millionaires that would yield $50 billion a year in new revenue. Congressional negotiators began work on another stopgap spending bill.
Senate Votes Down Spending Cuts The Senate on Wednesday voted down competing plans to impose new spending cuts and finance the government through Sept. 30. A House-passed bill that made deep cuts got only 44 votes in the Senate. An alternative Democratic measure received just 42 votes, with 10 Democrats and Sanders voting no. Sanders said Congress must get deficits under control but he added, "If the Democrats are serious about deficit reduction, they have to raise revenue along with spending cuts." He was interviewed moments after the votes by Dylan Ratigan on MSNBC. To watch, click here.
What House Republicans Would Cut
- $1.3 billion in funding for Community Health Centers denying primary health care to 11 million patients.
- $1.7 billion from the Social Security Administration, meaning delays for seniors and disabled Americans awaiting benefits. The House Republican bill cut $1.7 billion in funding from the Social Security Administration.
- $5.7 billion in Pell grants for 9.4 million low-income college students.
- A 20 percent cut in Head Start eliminating 218,000 children and forcing 55,000 layoffs.
- Etc., etc., etc.
Sanders Proposes Millionaire Surtax Sanders on Thursday introduced The Emergency Deficit Reduction Act that would establish a surtax on millionaires and eliminate tax breaks for big oil and gas companies. Any proposal to fund the government for the rest of this fiscal year must pair additional revenue from those who can afford it the most with spending cuts, he said. "The American people get it. They understand you can't move toward deficit reduction just by cutting programs that working families, the middle class, low-income people desperately need in order to survive in the midst of this terrible recession. They understand that serious, responsible deficit reduction requires shared sacrifice," Sanders said in a Senate floor speech. To watch the speech, click here.
Made in America Sanders welcomed a commitment by the Smithsonian Institution to sell only made-in-America products at a gift shop in the National Museum of American History. Museum executives also told Sanders they will seek more American suppliers for the merchandise sold at gift shops at all of its popular museums along the National Mall. Sanders met with museum executives on Tuesday in office on Capitol Hill. He called the commitment a step in the right direction, but if the Smithsonian does not follow through on its pledge he said he will introduce legislation that would make the taxpayer-supported museums sell more merchandise made in America. To watch or read an ABC News report, click here. To read a Bennington Banner editorial, click here.