Senator Paul, House Democrats Threaten Budget Vote as Shutdown Looms
Opposition from both the right and left is threatening the budget deal hammered out in the Senate between Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. The deal would increase federal spending by about $300 billion over two years. The agreement also calls for raising the debt ceiling until March 2019, as well as nearly $90 billion in disaster aid.
But Rand Paul is holding up a vote on the deal until he gets a vote on an amendment to reestablish strict budget caps. There are many conservative Republicans who agree with him and blanch at the massive increase in spending.
In the House, Democrats are set to blow up the deal over the DACA issue. With so many on the right opposed to the deal, Speaker Paul Ryan is going to need a lot of Democrats to vote for the measure if it is going to pass. Some nose counters put the number of Democrats that Ryan needs at near 70. The Democratic House leadership is begging members to vote against the deal unless the GOP accepts legislation legalizing DACA recipients.
Ryan is playing up the big boost in defense spending in order to placate Republicans, while also trying to reassure Pelosi and wavering Democrats that he is resolved to coming up with a solution for Dreamers.
"I know that there is a real commitment to solving the the DACA challenge in both political parties. That's a commitment that I share," Ryan told reporters on Thursday, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. "If anyone doubts my intention to solve this problems and bring up a DACA and immigration reform bill, do not. We will bring a solution to the floor, one the president will sign. We must pass this budget agreement first so we can get onto that."
Once again, Democrats believe they have leverage on their side. But considering what happened during the last budget showdown when Dems were widely blamed for the fiasco, that leverage may be an illiusion.
Rand Paul is speaking for conservatives when he wonders how some GOP members could call Democrats out for massive spending increases during the Obama years and stay silent as their own party jacks up the budget by $300 billion.
Paul pulled no punches when he said, "I want them to have to answer people at home who said how come you were against president Obama’s deficits and then how come you’re for Republican deficits? Isn’t that the very definition of intellectual dishonesty? If you were against president Obama’s deficits and now you’re for the Republican deficits, isn’t that the very definition of hypocrisy?"
Indeed it is, Senator. But those "budget caps" only exist in the Land of Oz. They're like trying to slow down a freight train with a feather.
At this point, if the vote fails, expect another short shutdown -- no more than a couple of days.