Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and a number of other GOP senators voted Thursday for a non-binding resolution calling for shared sacrifice from the wealthiest taxpayers in dealing with the mounting federal budget deficit — and also scoffed at the measure.
Rather than filibuster the “sense of the Senate resolution,” McConnell and more than 20 Republicans joined with most Democrats to allow the bill to move forward to a final vote.
That doesn’t mean, however, that these Republicans have changed their tune and now are willing to join Democrats in seeking some assistance from wealthy Americans in the task of deficit reduction.
While congressional Republicans have been insisting on trillions of dollars of cuts to a wide array of federal programs that assist low-income and middle class Americans, President Obama and many other Democrats have been calling for some sacrifice on the part of the richest Americans in the form of elimination of tax loopholes for corporate jets, big oil companies and more.
Republicans have demanded the budget cuts in exchange for allowing a needed vote on the federal government’s debt limit. That limit must be raised in coming weeks, or else the government is expected to begin defaulting on its current bills. Such an event, the first in history, would be a catastrophe for the struggling economy. The expected toll on the economy of such action would throw more than 600,000 Americans out of work, according to experts.
But even as they voted to advance the resolution, S. 1323, some Republicans openly derided the measure, which is purely symbolic and has no force of law.
The measure resolves only that it is “the sense of the Senate that any agreement to reduce the budget deficit should require that those earning $1,000,000 or more per year make a more meaningful contribution to the deficit reduction effort.”
“I oppose the resolution, but I’ll vote to move to it so we can finally have a real debate about the economic crisis we face,” McConnell remarked on the Senate floor ahead of the cloture vote.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison also was scornful, even after she supported the measure.
In response to comments from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the Texas Republican commented, “Well, I would respond to the distinguished senator from Arizona that the motion that was just passed was to go to a sense of the Senate resolution, which, of course, has no force of law. It is indeed our second vote this week. I will say that there’s one thing on the minds of the people today: it is what on earth is Congress doing?”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called the non-binding resolution “legislation [that] would reaffirm the Senate’s commitment to ensure the extremely wealthy are asked to make sacrifices.”
Even ahead of the vote, however, Reid understood what the Republicans were doing.
“Now, that would be great if there was some sense that they agreed with what we are trying to do. That is, if they want millionaires and billionaires to contribute their fair share,” he says.
Scott Nance is the editor and publisher of the news site The Washington Current. He has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.