U.S. Senate Passes a Budget; Now the Work Begins

For the first time in 4 years, the U.S. Senate has passed a budget, as opposed to a continuing appropriations resolution which authorizes government agencies to fund their agencies at the current level until either the resolution expires, or an appropriations bill is passed. Reuters reports, “The budget plan passed 50-49 at about 5 a.m. [on March 23] after a marathon voting session in the Democratic-controlled chamber. Four Democratic senators facing tough re-election campaigns in 2014 joined all the Senate Republicans in opposing the measure, which seeks to raise nearly $1 trillion in new tax revenues…”

The budget that passed through the Senate also includes a proposal, the so-called Marketplace Fairness Act, that would give States the ability to require businesses to collect sales tax on products imported into the State. This proposal, if it actually becomes part of the law, would obliterate the physical presence standard which has been upheld by the Supreme Court “to protect businesses and their customers from predatory tax administrators.”

The Senate version of the budget includes a dozen other amendments, many of which are not part of the budget passed by the House of Representatives. Among the more interesting proposal that were adopted, are a pair of amendments from the Senators from Oklahoma, James Inhofe & Tom Coburn. The purpose of the Inhofe amendment is “to uphold Second Amendment rights and prevent the United States from entering into the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty” while the purpose of the Coburn amendment is unknown, even after it was adopted by a vote of 62-37.

The Senate also rejected 33 amendments via roll-call vote, including two amendments from Sen. David Vitter “to end the mobile phone welfare program” and “to ensure election integrity by requiring a valid government-issued photographic ID for voting in federal elections.” A third amendment proposal from Sen. Vitter was passed and would “end ‘Too Big To Fail’ subsidies or funding advantage for Wall Street mega-banks (over $500 billion in total assets).”

Reuters reports the White House welcomed the Senate move, with White House spokesman Jay Carney stating, “Today, the Senate passed a budget plan that will create jobs and cut the deficit in a balanced way. Now it is time for our leaders to come together to find common ground. The president has put a plan on the table that reflects compromise, and he will continue to work with both sides to see if there is an opportunity to reach a solution to our budget challenges.”

Not only is the budget a challenge, finding compromise between the two House & Senate budget will be a challenge, as well. The Senate budget would “reduce deficits by $1.85 trillion over 10 years through an equal mix of tax increases and spending cuts.” While the House budget “seeks $4.6 trillion in savings over the same period without raising new taxes.”

Whether a compromise can be reached is yet to be seen, and once again there is a threat of “government shut down” with the Treasury expected to exhaust its borrowing capacity around late July or early August. I don’t really expect a budget to be passed, and can safely predict that the House and Senate will pass a continuing resolution at the last minute to continue funding the wars, theft and oppression committed by the federal government.