Paul and Yarmuth break from Ky. delegation to oppose budget bill

04/14/2011 05:48 PM

Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul and Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth of Louisville found themselves on the same side of the federal budget fight Thursday, albeit for different reasons.

Yarmuth was the only one of Kentucky’s six U.S. representatives to vote against H.R. 1473 — the final budget continuation bill to get the federal government through the rest of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

Yarmuth has criticized the spending cuts proposed by Republicans, saying they would affect services. The legislation cuts $38.5 billion through the rest of the fiscal year, including cuts to the Centers for Disease Control, housing programs and some environmental programs. The Federal Emergency Management Agency took a 26% hit of about $2 billion, as did renewable energy programs.

Yarmuth joined 108 Democrats to oppose the bill, which passed 260-167 at 3 p.m. Another 59 Republicans opposed the bill, up from 28 who voted against the temporary continuation budget last Friday.

Across the Capitol two hours later, Paul spoke against the budget measure because he said it didn’t go far enough.

“These are no cuts,” he said. “We will spend more this year than we spent last year. Forget about all the numbers. Forget about all the baselines.”

Paul rejected calls for compromise because he said he feared tax increases would be part of the ultimate solution. The commission on debt recommended certain tax increases as part of their suggestions to cut the nation’s debt, he said. President Barack Obama, this week, called for ending tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

The budget measure passed the Senate 81-19 after the Senate voted to allow federal funding to Planned Parenthood removed by the House — part of the deal negotiated by congressional leaders last week.

Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky’s senior senator, issued a statement describing the vote as “a small but crucial step in getting Washington to live within its means.”

“This debate will soon move from a debate about billions in savings to a discussion about how we save trillions because the ground has shifted in the direction Americans want,” he said.

Kentucky U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers of Somerset sponsored the legislation as part of his role as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Rogers led off debate in the House Thursday by seeking to extinguish concern that the proposed cuts weren’t real. On Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office issued a report indicating that some of the cuts included billions of dollars that agencies hadn’t yet committed to spend.

But Rogers insisted that the cuts were “deep and responsible” and a “bold move for Congress.”

“After weeks of hard-fought negotiations, all sides were able to come together in this final agreement to find common ground and take steps to balance our budget,” Rogers said on the House floor shortly after 1 p.m. “Our bill targets wasteful and duplicative spending, makes strides to rein in out-of-control federal bureaucracies and will help bring our nation one step closer to eliminating our job-crushing level of debt.”

Other House Republicans, including U.S. Reps. Geoff Davis of Hebron and Ed Whitfield of Hopkinsville, issued statements Thursday also praising the vote as a move toward fiscal restraint they say they want.

“It’s not perfect, but it does move us in the right direction,” Davis said.

Also voting for the budget measure in the House were Democratic Rep. Ben Chandler of Versailles and Republican Rep. Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green.

The House is expected to vote Friday on the budget proposal for next year offered by Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. The measure includes restructuring Medicaid and Medicare and deep cuts to spending.

The bill “offers an honest, realistic long-term blueprint to eliminate the deficit, balance the budget and pay off the national debt without raising taxes on American job creators,” Davis said.

- Ryan Alessi


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