Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
March 29, 2015

Senate GOP Opposition to Budget Deal Grows

Ayotte and Graham announced opposition to the budget deal, while McCain said he's leaning in favor of it. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ayotte and Graham announced their opposition to the budget deal, but McCain, center, said he’s leaning in favor of it. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Many Senate Republicans began to announce opposition Thursday to a bipartisan budget agreement — even as their House counterparts passed it — actions unlikely to imperil the deal but that will make vote counters sweat in the closing days of 2013.

Most GOP senators facing primary challengers in 2014 have either declared their opposition to the framework or are expected to do so in the coming days, which perhaps creates for them the ideal political scenario: Congress puts itself on track to avoid a shutdown by setting appropriations levels for the next two years that have bipartisan support while these Republicans get to tout their conservative bona fides in breaking with the party.

“After careful review of the agreement, I believe it will do disproportionate harm to our military retirees,” said in-cycle Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, in one of the first statements to buck the deal. “Our men and women in uniform have served admirably during some of our nation’s most troubling times. They deserve more from us in their retirement than this agreement provides.”

Graham’s been one of the most persistent GOP critics of the effect of automatic sequester cuts on the military.

The framework brokered by House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., includes cuts in both military and civilian pensions to offset some of the across-the-board spending cuts approved in 2011. The House passed the legislation 332-94. To avoid another government shutdown, however, appropriators will still need to draft an omnibus spending bill by Jan. 15 that gets approved by both chambers.

Graham was not alone in his dissent Thursday. Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., told #WGDB they would not support the bill.

“I understand that [Ryan] was in because of what happened this fall, and also I know there were appropriators that … made it difficult,” Corker said. “I voted for the Budget Control Act back in 2011.”

“It’s the same old thing where …we’ll go ahead and spend the money now and in years nine and ten down the road we hope someone else will not,” Corker added.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who is leaning against the agreement, echoed Corker’s concern, calling it “kind of the age old spend now, save later.”

Also against the plan are Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. They released separate statements Thursday also decrying the military pension changes.

Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., who just announced that he would seek another term in 2014, said that he had not decided how to vote on the agreement, but acknowledged the announced opposition of his home-state colleague.

“I do not support paying for increased federal spending on the backs of our retired and active duty troops,” Wicker said in a statement. “Congress should not change the rules in the middle of the game for those who have chosen to serve our nation in the military. We can and should do a deal without cutting the benefits of our men and women who have volunteered for a military career. The plan should be rejected.”

Ayotte, like Corker, expressed concern that Congress would be locked into a two-year agreement without setting a path for structural entitlement reform. She noted in a brief interview, however, that if negotiators had to change the pay-fors on the original Murray-Ryan deal, “I certainly would look at the agreement differently and I’d take a look at it.”

But Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who often agrees with Graham and Ayotte, was one of the rare GOP senators to tell reporters he was leaning toward supporting the measure, even though he would prefer that military pensions not be cut.

“It’s a very serious concern, but the fact is, if we shut down the government, we hurt the military very very badly… as well as fellow citizens,” McCain said, before adding that he is “leaning toward voting for it.”

It’s hard to see the deal achieving the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture without Republican appropriators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Neither of the two moderates would commit when asked about the Ryan-Murray legislation as the House voted Thursday.

“Obviously, it’s the details that you’ve got to focus in on, and that’s what we’re doing now in the midst of all of this jack-in-the-box we’re doing,” Murkowski said, in reference to the week’s pop-up Senate floor votes on nominations.

“I’m in the process of reviewing it,” Collins said, then adding, “I think we need a budget I am concerned about the cuts in the military.”

Speaking with reporters earlier in the day, Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., noted the importance of counting votes.

“We need Republican votes to pass the budget agreement, period. We need at least five, and I’m hoping that there’ll be more than that,” Durbin said. “There are not five who Republicans have announced they’re for it, I mean to my knowledge, and I hope there are many more than that and they’re just holding back for any number of reasons.”

  • Karen

    Chicken Hawk Paul Ryan guts military pensions next year, waits to 2022 to touch federal pensions. Paul Ryan has been voting yes on war for over a decade, and now he wants to steal from veterans for amnesty.

    • hacimo

      No amnesty!. Lets march on washington and fill the national mall with protesters if they try to force that monster through., it would destroy the country for good.

    • libglib

      I definitely feel for military vets. My dad was career AF. Bad deal. However, don’t think that this is the end to the threats of federal pensions just because it’s not in this budget framework. If it’s another day, there is another threat (high-5, increased contribution, total elimination, etc.).

    • PubliusNovus

      Ryan is certainly a chicken hawk, but he is not proposing to cut from veterans. He is proposing to cut from those who have not yet retired from active duty.

      • maodeedee

        Ryan is not necessarily a chicken HAWK, but he’s proved himself to be just plain Chicken-S-H-I-T and a gutless, phony, back-stabbing sell-out.

      • John

        Unfortunately, that is not accurate. The cuts would impact all military retirees … current or future. It does not impact Reservists for some reason nor does it impact those active retirees who took REDUX bonuses. I apparently only impacts those who did not take the REDUX bonus but still served 20 years or more. I think the problem here is these people agreed to do something with an understanding of compensation. If we as voters (or through Congress) feel that sort of “contractual” relationship only requires one side to comply, we have a problem. We definitely need to reform military pension soon. But we should not change the game on those who made agreement and kept their end. If we allow such a precedent … what will be next?

  • Mygoodness

    Oh, now they need the votes of these extremist republicans. What’s wrong, they haven’t changed the rules yet to say only a majority of democrats is needed?

    • PubliusNovus

      No, that’s the House. But a simple majority is, after all, what the Constitution contemplated. When the Founders intended that a super-majority be required, they wrote it down. As in a 2/3s majority of both houses required to override a presidential veto. Art. I, sec. 7, cl. 2. As in conviction after impeachment. Art. I, sec. 3, cl. 5. As in ratification of treaties. Art. II, sec. 2, cl. 2. They also specified when a minority could impel action, as in 1/5 to require a roll call vote. Art. I, sec. 5, cl. 3. Everything else is a simple majority. In short, the filibuster is and always has been unconstititional.

      BTW, the original filibuster rule required a 2/3s vote to end debate. Ask yourself this. What sense does it make to have a 2/3s vote to pass a bill, when a 2/3s vote is what is specified to override a veto? If every bill required a 2/3s vote to get past the filibuster rule, then every bill would be veto-proof. So if the Founders intended a 2/3s filibuster, why did they put in the veto override provision? Yeah. Think about it.

      • Mygoodness

        Didn’t read the article did you.

  • S. Strengari

    LOL what difference does it make at this point? Where were these tough talkers the past few years? So we have a united Senate Republican minority bloc that are impotent and so shell-shocked they are afraid of their own shadow? Love watching Graham and the rest of those snakes trying to prove their conservative street cred now! America curses at the mention of our government officials and these idiots are all smiles while they kick the can down the road AGAIN. Main Street hates the Establishment of BOTH parties!

    • PubliusNovus

      I guarantee that if they stopped kicking the can down the road, you would be the first one in line bltchlng about the resulting depression.

      • S. Strengari

        Funny already living in it.

  • terry80

    who could have seen McCain supporting this?? Always taking the high road saying he has the troops backs, acknowledging this hurts troops who have already retired (as opposed to civilians where it only affects those who haven’t been hired yet)…then saying he’s going to vote for it anyway. Typical con-man! McCain, Boehner, Ryan, Pelosi, Reid, Obama: They are all hypocrites and liars!

  • terry80

    McCain and other sleight-of-hand Republicans (Boehner, Ryan) offer a false choice. The choice isn’t do this or shut down the government. We got here by doing a continuing resolution, just a few weeks ago, just like the government has been funded for years. That is the real choice, do this or keep the spending caps in place. Don’t BS us like we are stupid! This is about doling out $ to buy your constituents for re-election. Same old, same old.

    Spend now, save later led to the $17 Trillion debt we have now! I have no confidence that THIS TIME it is going to work.

  • terry80

    If congress really wants to help the troops and save money, then let’s get out of Afghanistan. We are spending $6.7 billion a month there. Getting out now and avoiding those costs would pay for all of the extra $63 billion spending spree…and then some.

    • evangelical

      We are spending 10 billion dollars a day…Afghanistan would cut approximately 200 million dollars a day

  • PubliusNovus

    So Ayotte, Graham, and Wicker are NOT against the deal because it doesn’t cut enough. They are against the deal because of what it cuts–military “pensions” for those in the 40-62 age range. This is the same old, same old from the “conservatives.” They want the budget cut, but they are against any line item that is actually proposed for cutting.
    BTW, military “retirees” do not receive “pensions.” They retire from active duty on partial pay ranging from half-pay and up.

  • HemiHead66

    This whole Govt. needs to be fired. We’re spending 6 x more on Defense than the next biggest Defense spender, which is China, and they’re looking to rob Social Sec. Medicare, and the pensions of our troops so they can put back those puny cuts at the Pentagon. This is about their pals pork-barrel Defense contracts. That money gets kicked back to the crony politician fund. These slobs are as corrupt as they come. Worse than the mob.

    • WhatMightBe

      How about 20% fraud with Social Security and Medicare is closer to 30%

      what about that???????????

  • maodeedee

    Mitch McConnell said that he would vote against this abomination of House GOP Capitulation but most likely he’s only taken that position because he thought it could pass without his vote.

    And the key to understanding Quisling sell-outs like McConnell, McCain, Graham, Boehner and now Ryan is that If Obama is in favor of something, they can be depended upon to give it their full support in the interest of establishing one-party elitist rule and big government-run crony capitalism in America.

    Yet none dare call it Treason

  • evangelical

    ******* FHUCK BOEHNER & RYAN!!! ********

    ……..(‘(…´…´…. ¯~/’…’)
    ……..………..……. _.•´

    • tpaine1

      My congratulations. Your intellectual addition just got FLAGGED?? You’re probably going to get banned altogether. Good job!!

  • funky321

    And these dirty rinos slipped a provision in that allows the bill to be passed in the Senate with a simple majority instead of 60 votes.

  • harryjmic

    Maybe I can add Corker and Flake to my list of “good guys” right now all I have is Paul, Rubio, Cruz, and Lee.

  • WhatMightBe

    Super – Boehner sold out the GOP in the house……

  • tpaine1

    After their “cave in” during the shutdown, NOW the Senate GOP has a pair?? Little late in the game. Only thing worse than the Senate GOP is the Senate Democrats who are STILL lying about the ObamaCon Tax.

  • Black_Saint

    Lindsey Graham is one of the biggest worthless piece of RINO feces in the Nation exceed only by his parder in crime John McNut!

  • Benjamin Dover

    It is Harry Reid and Senate democrats who refused to compromise.

  • Benjamin Dover

    Along with the courage and industry that liberty begets, competition is proven to best motivate the genius, creativity, and work ethic upon which technological advance depends.

  • Socialism is Organized Evil

    Here we find ineligible usurper, Hussein Obama, lying about cutting the Federal deficit in half:

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