WASHINGTON — Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken joined their Democratic colleagues in blocking the Cut, Cap and Balance legislation this morning.
The bill — which would have cut federal spending, cap it in the future and put a controversial balanced budget amendment to the states for ratification — passed the Republian-controlled House of Represenatives easily on Tuesday. The Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, was never expected to approve the bill. It fell 51-46 on a party-line procedural vote.
Repbulicans have highlighted the legislation a way to cut the budget enough to approve an increase to the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit. Minnesota Republican Reps. John Kline and Erik Paulsen spoke in favor of the legislation on the floor on Tuesday.
“It’s time for Washington to do what’s right. We need to make the tough choices necessary to get our nation’s fiscal house in order. No one said it would be easy, but it is certainly necessary,” Kline said. “The legislation before us today will end unsustainable spending and put this nation back on a fiscally responsible path.”
But Democrats said the bill would lead to dramatic cuts to entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and would handcuff the government from reacting to future recessions. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called the bill “perhaps some of the worst pieces of legislation in this history of this country.”
With Cut, Cap and Balance now out of the way, all eyes turn to debt limit negotiations between President Obama and Congressional leaders. Negotiators are reportedly looking at a plan that would rely on up to $3 trillion in spending cuts with tax reform coming later on. Democrats have said revenue increases must be part of any final agreement
Both Klobuchar and Franken have said they oppose efforts to dramatically cut the budget in exchange for a increase in the debt ceiling. They have favored an approach that blends spending cuts with increased revenue and changes to the tax code.