Every single U.S. senator is expected later today to have to vote on whether the federal budget should be balanced, senior Senate aides tell me. The vote will be for support of an amendment to the Democratic budget, which is currently not balanced, and which will be debated on the Senate floor today, calling for it to be balanced.
"Later today, every single Senator will be forced to go on the record about whether they want to balance the budget," a senior Senate aide tells me. "There will be no caveats, such as disallowing revenue increases. It will be a simple question: do you want to balance the budget—any way you desire—within the next 10 years, or not? If these Senators support this measure, it will effectively kill the Murray budget. If they oppose it, they will have to explain to their constituents why they don’t even support this popular concept in principle."
That is: The vote will not be about how balance in the budget should be reached. So if a Democrat believes the budget should be balanced by raising taxes, he'd be able to support this move; and if a Republican believes the budget should be balanced by cutting spending, she too could support this move.
One Republican aide wonders specifically how Democrats in conservative-leaning states will vote. He says he is most interested in knowing whether Max Baucus, Mark Pryor, Joe Donnelly, Kay Hagan, Mary Landrieu, Heidi Heitkamp, and Mark Warner support a balanced budget, and he wonders whether this vote might effect one of those senator's reelection chances.
Senator Jeff Sessions, a Senate tells me, is most likely going to be the senator to offer this amendment.
But Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, declined to comment for this article.
"I am not able to comment at this time on any specific amendments that Republicans may or may not offer," says Stephen Miller, the communications director for Sessions. "What I can say, broadly speaking, is that the whole of our nation will soon find out where every single United States Senator stands on this defining question: do you believe in balancing the federal budget?"
UPDATE: The vote will now not take place Wednesday, but will likely happen on Thursday.
The Democratic budget, released yesterday by Senate Budget Committee chair Patty Murray, passed out of committee this evening on a party line vote, 12-10. In response, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, Jeff Sessions, released this blistering statement:
The Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee claims the budget released today by Senate Democrats will raise taxes by $1.5 trillion. Before being released today, it had been reported that the Democrats' budget would raise taxes by $1 trillion, but number appears to have been far enough.
The minority side of the Senate Budget Committee releases this chart to back up its claim:
In advance of Senator Patty Murray, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, releasing a budget next week, which is expected to happen Wednesday, Republicans have written a letter to ask for sufficient time to read, debate, and amend the budget. The letter is signed by all ten Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee, and addressed directly to Murray.
“The fundamental question for you is not how we got here, but where you want the country to go,” said Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, to the members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (or the supercommittee) today. “What role do you and your colleagues want the government to play in the economy?”
Senate majority leader Harry Reid picked his three representatives to the twelve congressional member supercommittee yesterday, selecting Max Baucus, John Kerry, and Patty Murray. The first two choices make sense: Baucus is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Kerry was the Democratic nominee for president in 2004 and, as his website describes, "holds senior positions on the Finance, Commerce, and Small Business Committees."
Every time you think Harry Reid can't be even more crassly political and partisan, you're proven wrong. He's now appointed Patty Murray—chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC)—to be co-chair of the new deficit supercommittee.
As the Pennsylvania Senate race tightens, so does the race in Washington. McClatchy reports:
With two weeks to go, the Washington state U.S. Senate race is a virtual dead heat, with Democratic Sen. Patty Murray holding a 1-point lead, 48-47 percent, over Republican challenger Dino Rossi among likely voters, according to a McClatchy-Marist poll released Tuesday.
1. Latest Sign of the Dempocalypse.CNN's generic ballot numbers are just rotten for Democrats. The GOP leads 52-45 among registered voters. Republicans even have a lead of 49-44 among "adults." Unfortunately, there are no cross-tabs breaking down support by party affiliation, but you can't produce numbers like this in a poll of registered voters without the Democrats getting crushed among Independent voters.