I believed over a year ago that spending caps were an important part of our effort to fight the deficit. Jeff Sessions(R-AL) and I worked hard and came very close to passing the Sessions -McCaskill spending caps. While I was able to secure 16 of my Democratic colleague’s support, we fell just short of the 60 votes needed. The leadership in my party was opposed to our effort and fought to defeat these caps. Keep in mind that this was a cap on BOTH domestic and defense discretionary spending that took into account our current fragile economy, and placed caps on spending for the next three years. It was supported unanimously by the Republican senators.
As the following article indicates, our effort did result in a shift on the Appropriations Committee to a lower level of spending. I’m very hopeful that we will have the votes, on both sides of the aisle, to enact spending caps in the new Congress. Spending caps were part of the success in reaching surpluses in the 90’s. For some unexplained reason the Republican led Congress allowed them to expire under President Bush.
2010 Key Senate Vote: Discretionary Spending Caps
Rejection of a motion to place a spending cap on appropriations.
Although Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and Claire McCaskill , D-Mo., never mustered the 60 votes necessary to win adoption of their amendment to limit government spending, their efforts helped shape the appropriations debate in Congress.
The Senate voted four times from January to June on their joint offering, which would cap spending at $1.108 trillion annually through fiscal 2014.
The key vote is the one on which they came the closest, on March 4, when 59 senators backed cloture on the amendment, with 41 opposed. “Once we got so close to passing, it panicked people,” McCaskill said at the time. As the rhetoric over government spending began to intensify before the midterm elections, the spending cap amendment was defeated for the final time June 9, but 16 Democrats bucked their leadership. McCaskill said she considered it a victory that so many of her Democratic colleagues “withstood the pressure of leadership trying to convince people to jump ship.”
Despite the votes to reject it, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., gave the Sessions-McCaskill cap a prominent role in the debate on fiscal 2011 spending. He and other Republicans announced at a Senate Appropriations Committee markup in July that they would not vote for any bill that spent more than the Sessions-McCaskill number.
While Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, pushed for a $1.114 trillion cap, he eventually relented and began writing spending bills that would come in under the $1.108 trillion limit.
Senate Rejected motion to waive the Budget Act on the Sessions, R-Ala., amendment to HR 4213 (PL 111-205) on June 9, 57-41: R 40-0; D 16-40; I 1-1. Three-fifths of the total Senate (60) is required to waive the Budget Act. (Senate vote 181, p. 63; legislative summary, 2010 CQ Weekly, p. 2907; tax and benefits bill stalls, p. 1458)