Senators place blame for budget stalemate
September 25th, 2011
01:47 PM ET
3 years ago

Senators place blame for budget stalemate

(CNN) – Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander and Democratic Sen. Mark Warner engaged in a political back-and-forth Sunday that revealed fractures between both parties—and the House and Senate.

Though Warner admitted the threat of another government shutdown as a result of a budget showdown is “embarrassing,” he also told CNN’s “State of the Union” that the conservative tea party movement was causing yet another stalemate.

The latest budget faceoff comes as current funding for government agencies is set to expire September 30 without a continuing resolution to extend spending.

The House of Representatives passed a short-term bill that included additional money for disaster relief through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, which have almost depleted their resources due to Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, wildfires and tornadoes this year.

The Senate defeated the House measure on Friday, complaining that it included spending cuts elsewhere to offset some of the additional disaster relief money in what Democrats called an unprecedented encumbrance to emergency aid.

Warner blamed “a small group within the House of the tea party crowd” for demanding the spending offsets and picking another budget fight after last month’s debt ceiling deal that was supposed to prevent any further threats of a government shutdown through 2012.

“There is this effort that’s ‘my way or the highway’ again,” said Warner, the former governor of Virginia.

But Alexander, a former governor of Tennessee now in his second Senate term, pointed the blame back at Democrats, saying Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “manufactured a crisis all week about disaster when there’s no crisis.”

“Everybody knows we’re going to pay for every single penny of disaster aid that the president declares and that FEMA certifies,” Alexander insisted. “The House sent over a bill that does that and the Senate should have approved it.”

Warner called the current standoff a “spectacle,” while Alexander described it as a week of “chest-pounding and game-playing.”

But for both senators, Congress and the nation should be focused instead on the role of the special joint congressional committee created to force a deficit reduction plan.

“We've got to get back to the bigger issue which is how do we send confidence back to the American public and to the markets,” Warner said. “The only way we're going to get that done is if we actually, Democrats and Republicans, start being Americans before they put on their partisan hats.”

soundoff (381 Responses)
  1. RobertFTL

    A bipartisan way to deal with this issue is to agree on the amount given to FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers. Attaching more spending cuts to offset emergency funds is pure politics played by the GOP. Republicans want Democrats to go against all their party's principals and labels it as "not working together" even though they refuse to allow the Bush Tax cuts to expire on the very wealthy and/or end oil subsidies.

    September 25, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  2. Larry L

    Republicans in the Senate have blocked every initiative for two years – even those they originally created. They used the filibuster (over 90!) as a tool of political terrorism – totally rendering the Senate completely impotent and useless. Their leader's #1 goal of making President Obama a one-term leader is the only initiative they've actively supported, and the cost to Amewrica has been enormous. The Republican Senate is the tip of the spear for the effort to destroy the middle class and plunge even more people into poverty. They are middle-management for the rich and powerful and need to be completely removed from office.

    September 25, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  3. FLB

    It is very simple – cut the programs in the Tea Party districts to pay for FEMA. The Tea Partiers obviously don't want the government projects. Generate the offset that way. Make the Tea Party puts its principles where their mouths are.

    September 25, 2011 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  4. Joan

    Why doesn't the media have the backbone to point out some very obvious results of the 2010 elections? Since then the economy has been totally sinking. Anderson Cooper reported that during the same period in 2010 the Democrats in Congress had passed over 400 bills but in 2011 the Republicans had passed barely over 200 bills. That is totally unacceptable. Also, everyone around the world knows that the downgrade this summer that caused the stock market to tank was totally caused by the Republicans, especially the Tea Party, who thought it was OK to join the debt ceiling increase with spending cuts and who didn't think defaulting was a problem. Last week they did the same thing with disaster relief funding and this could lead to a government shutdown which spooked the markets again. Do these people not know anything about the fragility of markets and the economy and that all of their petty gripes and hostage takings are broadcast all around the world? Their unreasonable stances are making the US look weak and are causing unrest and instability in the markets. None of this is Pres. Obama's fault even though many pundits try to make it look like both sides are EQUALLY at fault. They think if they say it enough, that naive people will believe it. Well, with the internet and instant news, people are not buying that garbage any more. I hope that all of this is brought up over and over during the election campaign and the Republican leaders are exposed for once and all. They just want Pres. Obama to fail but in doing so they are hurting their country. I hope it comes back to bite them.

    September 25, 2011 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  5. Positive

    Let's get this country moving again! No more shut-down threats and other Tea party/Republican economic and middle class destroying plans.

    Vote out ALL Republicans in 2012!!

    September 25, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  6. David Huffine

    This is absolutely pathetic that we are here again. Both Houses of Congress...and the White House...should be ashamed. I know that I'm ashamed watching this continuing circus...

    September 25, 2011 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  7. Marry

    And the GOP/TP is causing yet another stalemate!!!

    September 25, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  8. vic , nashville ,tn

    Best line Sen. Mark Warner said “use the money to build the school Joplin, Mo. Not in Iraq” republicans say no more defense cut but give money to Pakistan ISI let them attack our embassy
    “Taliban largely depend on funding from the ISI” BBC 06-10-2010
    Sen. Mark Warner right about tea baggers

    Sen. Lamar Alexander knows better when he was governor he started the Nissan in Smyrna its creating more jobs (electric car) now and recognized by CNN money.com
    Sen. Lamer Alexander did the right thing when he was governor its paying back in bad economy time may be that is the reason he quit his post he couldn’t work with tea baggers

    September 25, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  9. Point

    The house new the senate would not pass this bill. But lets blame it all on the senate.

    September 25, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  10. Rick McDaniel

    The reality is.........the only bill that Harry Reid has allowed the House to get through the Senate was his version of the deficit ceiling bill. Harry Reid has refused to even allow the Senate to take up, any other House bill, whatsoever.

    Harry Reid, is demonstrating, that he is, in fact, an obstructionist, who refuses to allow anything through, so he can blame the House.

    September 25, 2011 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  11. John

    That all the American people have gotten since the Republican took Control of the HOUSE. It been my way or the way with the Republican. And than It come down to a Government Shut down and at the Last Second they come to some kind of agreement , and most of the Time It because the democrats give In. The Republican has to come In with the Idea of a COMPROMISE. This Is no way of Running this Country. It really making the Republican and the Tea party Look like Clown and America Is the Circus.

    September 25, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  12. Jean Sartre

    Again, the deficit is NOT the most immdiate issue!

    JOBS are the number 1 issue that these intellectually bankrupt congress people & senators should be dealing with NOW!

    Start getting people back to work and paying taxes, purchasing things and you will see that the deficit is a much more easy issue to deal with.

    The Republic congress promised to make JOBS their number 1 priority, IF Americans just gave them control of the congress; well, you have CONTROL: WHERE ARE THE JOBS... other than the new ones that you folks got?

    September 25, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  13. Mom to 3

    I hope for the future of this country that people wake up and smell the coffee! Republicans are causing a TON of problems with their extremism. The GOP is for coddling the ultra-rich, getting rid of regulations that protect consumers, the economy, and our environment, and forcing through spending cuts that would decimate our quality of life as well as lead to a double-dip recession. Republicans are doing NOTHING for regular, working Americans and they need to be voted out before they do more damage. I am voting a straight Democratic ticket - Democrats are not perfect, but they do have their priorities straight and are willing to compromise. The GOP is WAY too extreme and I will not vote for any of them until they turn their party around. Even one Republican these days can hold up logical decisions in Washington with extremist demands. ALL DEMOCRATS 2012!!!

    September 25, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  14. Dr. Ken Dodd

    No compromise with bullies in the Republican Party. No compromise with the tea bag recessionists. No compromise with the wing-nuts who detest science. No compromise with the anti-vaccination fringe. No compromise with those who want to control women's bodies and keep females in their place. No compromise with those who support domestic violence as God's will. No compromise with religious theocrats. It's time to take back OUR country!

    September 25, 2011 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  15. porchhound

    Dems in charge of budget for last three years and couldn't come up with one...was THAT the Tea Party's fault also???

    September 25, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  16. CaringFool

    Too bad that 300 million have to put up with the incompetence of a few.

    September 25, 2011 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  17. Anthony Antin

    The American electorate has only itself to blame for the threat of another shutdown and for the miserable state of the stock market. When it elected that 25 or so tea party-backed congresspeople who stupidly signed a no-tax increase pledge just to get elected not as a result of any intelligent thinking by them or (no surprise) by simple-minded tea baggers. There is no way we can reduce our deficit without BOTH spending cuts and tax increases, the latter mainly by simply ending the Bush tax reductions. So don't just blame congress. Blame your neighbor (or yourself) who voted in those reality-blind congressional freshmen/women. The nation cannot be run by Bachmann-simplicities.

    September 25, 2011 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  18. Kenneth Krieger

    There very few Tea Party Republicans elected so far. You and the other idiots we voted into office caused the problem, not the Tea Party. No one believes you. You are lying. You can not sell it any more. Cut spending and cut taxes. Ken Krieger Cape Coral, Florida

    September 25, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  19. Ron

    "The biggest problem this country has right now,is Bohner,Cantor,and the right wing facist group called "Teaparty"! They are "Ignorant of the Constitution,Obstructionist,and just Evangelical Hatefull Bigots! They have broken the back of the fundamentals,this America was Proud of,and was founded on! the Teaparty is a Gloomy Cloud over America,vote them gone! Obama 2012!!!! Win back Congress!!

    September 25, 2011 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  20. Trent

    The tea party politicians are god-awful stupid and the people who support them are doubly so.

    September 25, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  21. dylan

    Let me get this right: Tea Party Republicans are saying "We'll fund FEMA et al with extra money, but we're going to have to pay for it with spending cuts elsewhere" and Democrats are saying "We'll fund FEMA et al with extra money, but it will be paid for by increasing our debt." Americans have to make tough budget decisions every day, buying one thing while cutting another. State and local governments, too. Why can't Congress do likewise? Why are offsets such a difficult thing for Democrats and some Republicans to understand and use?

    September 25, 2011 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  22. A Soldier

    Another threat of a shutdown because the damn elected officials can't get their act right. They wanna cut the pay n retirement of the military but can't look in the mirror and say they are all overpaid. Free health care for life and a cushy retirement plan that the tax payers pay for. They should all be made to serve 2yrs in the militarty before they get all high and mighty in DC. Acting like kids again but they have the power to ruin alot of lifes with BS bickering and not doing there jobs. In the military they would get relieved fast n in a hurry. But come the next election the tea party will be history.

    September 25, 2011 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  23. ironside

    Looks like we need to only vote independent next time around.

    September 25, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  24. John

    GOP is the minority party.Start acting like it.......You do not have the final say

    September 25, 2011 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  25. todd

    Most Real people sit down at the table at the end of the month and PAY THE BILLS. The Tea Party are those Real people. You dont spend what you dont have!!!

    September 25, 2011 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
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