Give us a break! That’s what Congress finally did on last weekend, when after a marathon session in the Senate, Congressmen all agreed to head out of town for their two-week spring break. So we’re safe from their meddlesome efforts until April 8.
But what a show they put on before they left. After arguing most of the night, the Senate finally managed to pass its first budget in four years at 4:56 Saturday morning. The final vote was 50-49, with every Republican opposing it. They were joined by four Democrats: Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Begich of Alaska and Max Baucus of Montana. Not so coincidentally, all four are up for re-election next year.
I’ll have more to say about the battle of the budgets in a moment. But first I need to comment on two recent Senate votes on Obamacare and the incredible hypocrisy they demonstrated. First, Congressional Republicans declared their unwavering opposition to the badly misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Then they voted to fund it for the rest of the year.
What the heck’s going on here?
Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), two tough young conservatives who defeated more establishment-type Republicans to win election, lived up to their campaign promises to try to end Obamacare. They forced a vote in the Senate on an amendment to defund the program. As expected, the measure lost on a straight party-line vote, with 55 Democrats voting against it and all 45 Republicans in the Senate voting in favor.
On March 20, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made a wonderful speech on the floor of the Senate:
In my view, Obamacare is a colossal mistake for our country. There’s just no way to fix it. It needs to be pulled out by its roots and we need to start over.
This bill needs to be repealed and replaced — not with another unreadable law or another 20,000 pages of regulations — but with common-sense reforms that actually lower health care costs.
And anyone who thinks we’ve given up that fight is dead wrong.
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