Forty Senate Republicans on Wednesday voted against waiving a point of order that Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) had raised on a veterans’ jobs bill authored by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) because the bill violated spending limits set by the debt ceiling deal (the Budget Control Act) and would add to the country’s debt.
Sixty votes are needed to waive the point of order, and only 58 Senators voted to do so, which means the order was sustained and the veterans’ jobs bill will go back to the Veterans Affairs Committee.
Democrats are already trying to politicize the vote and say, falsely, that Republicans voted against veterans. That repeats a cynical political tactic then-Sen. Barack Obama used during the 2008 election, when he made his first attack on rival Sen. John McCain–a veteran and war hero–by accusing him of abandoning veterans:
Yet Democrats could fix the bill by simply finding $700 million in savings over the next ten years.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) has also offered an alternative piece of legislation that complies with the Budget Control Act, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will not allow that bill to get a vote on the floor.
In addition, Democrats in the Senate have no plans to pass a defense authorization bill, which would be the first time in 50 years that the Senate, which has not passed a budget in nearly four years, will have failed to do so. That is made even worse because Democrats could have designed the veterans’ jobs bill without violating the Budget Control Act, and the Senate is slated to go on a seven-week recess.
Murray’s bill uses budgetary gimmicks to mask over $300 million the bill would add to the country’s debt– and that is what Sessions, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, was against.
On the Senate floor on September 13, Sessions emphasized his “sole problem” with the legislation was that “it violates the budget and is subject to a budget point of order” and “sustaining the budget point of order, not waiving the budget, does not kill the Murray bill.”
Sessions also criticized President Barack Obama for not having “said one word about our advancing or putting any effort into leadership that would lead us to fix this problem.”
“Maybe others think it is all right for him to lead from behind, to sit in the White House and go make speeches and not worry about the sequester and not worry about the fact we haven’t passed a Defense bill,” Sessions said. “I don’t think so.”
Sessions said it “seems to me the White House is perfectly happy with inaction” because Obama could politicize the bill and tell Republicans: “If you don’t raise taxes, like we want taxes to be raised, we are going to hammer the Defense Department.”
“But he is Commander in Chief,” Sessions said. “He has a moral obligation to those men and women, to make sure we are safe and they are treated fairly. I don’t think that is responsible.”