Top Senate Budget Republican not ruling out government shutdown
January 24th, 2011
05:39 PM ET
10 years ago

Top Senate Budget Republican not ruling out government shutdown

Washington (CNN) – Most Republicans demanding to slash federal spending won't entertain the idea of taking a possible standoff with President Obama so far that the government shuts down.

But the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee told CNN Monday he's not ruling out that possibility "if the President just stonewalls – refuses to pass anything that will be responsible."

In 1995, when Republicans controlled all of Congress and a spending stalemate resulted in a government shutdown, President Clinton went on to win re-election.

Most Republicans remember that as a politically disastrous move they don't want to repeat. Sessions says there was an upside – the country's fiscal condition did get better.

"It worked out good for the country. We had three years of balanced budgets that would never have happened had they not fought that hard in Congress so I think that Congress does have to fight," said Sessions.

Sessions said he is worried that the "gulf" between what Republicans want in spending cuts and what President Obama will tolerate may be too hard to bridge.

"It does appear that the president is a man of the left. He believes in government - he's still talking about it now – investments, which are spending programs," said Sessions.

One of the first fights over spending will come over whether to raise the debt ceiling to avoid the U.S. from defaulting on its debt – now totaling more than $14 trillion.

Many Republicans have said they will vote to do that only if the president agrees to cut spending.

The Alabama Republican says he wants no less than a 10 percent across the board spending cut in exchange for his vote to raise the debt limit.

"I truly believe that the debt limit is one of those points in which it will require the administration to meet with Congress and ask and answer the question of how we can continue at this rate, what changes can we make," said Sessions.

House Republican leaders have pledged to cut spending back to 2008 levels by the end of this year, which they now say adds up to $50 or $60 billion.

Sessions also told CNN he likes an idea proposed by House conservatives in the so-called Republican Study Group to go well beyond that - cut spending back to 2006 levels, which they say adds up to $2.5 trillion in savings over 10 years.

"Yes to go back to 2006 levels, that's just four years ago," said Sessions. "The country isn't going to sink into the ocean if we reduce spending that much. That would make a significant difference in our deficits, sending a message to the world that we're serious and I think create more confidence in our economic growth."

Filed under: Budget • Jeff Sessions • President Obama
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. concerned liberal

    It gets ugly when the Party of NO meets the President of all SHOW. We will see Obama roll over again to the Repubs and his big corporate donors.

    January 24, 2011 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  2. GonzoinHouston

    There WILL be a government shutdown at some point. The TP's will force one just to prove how powerful they are. It's another symbolic stunt like reading the Constitution and passing the repeal of ACA. Hopefully it will blow up in their faces just like Newt's grand act of petulance did.

    And for all their bluster, the debt limit will be raised, but not until the last moment. There's enough sane republicans left who will vote with the democrats to prevent Great Depression Two, which would be the result if the US defaulted on its debt.

    January 24, 2011 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  3. mark

    Everyone who thinks Bill Clinton balanced our budget needs to thank Newt Gingrich for forcing Clinton to accept.

    The gov't was shut down twice in that campaign.

    January 24, 2011 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  4. Proud Democrat

    I can't believe Americans put the Republicans in power. People will see what they really stand for. In 2012 Obama will be reelected and Democrats back in power. I can't wait to vote the Republicans out!

    January 24, 2011 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  5. New Age Independant

    Obama has a choice here. Either to start cutting spending like the American people voted for in the recent elections, or to continue his policies of "spend till you drop" and force the country into bankruptcy. Obama ran a campaign of "Change" a couple years ago, and instead all we got was more of the ancient liberal agenda. Well, the country has spoken against it, and it's time to put the country first instead of the liberal agenda.

    January 24, 2011 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  6. johnrj08

    This wouldn't surprise me a bit, especially coming from an overt racist like Sessions. The Republican Party has been disastrous for this country.

    January 24, 2011 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  7. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Sessions is an idiot! The republican shut of government of 1995 cost the American taxpayers $800 million in unnecessary wasted tax payer money. How could any state elect this mindless twit?

    January 24, 2011 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  8. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    I hope the republican shutdown causes Sessions and his cronies to be the first to not get their pay checks and government paid health care. Why does the republican party want to put our military, our seniors, our government employees at risk?

    January 24, 2011 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  9. T

    Go for it......see what happen.....remember CLINTON

    January 24, 2011 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  10. Rationalist

    What he neglects to say about the years of balanced budgets was how it actually did happen. Because if he did he would have to admit that it had very little to do with anything the GOP did. The tax increase on the top two brackets and the increased revenue from the DotCom boom caused a huge increase in total tax revenues. And there was serious spending cuts mainly from the end of the cold war and gulf war. Have we forgotten the cuts the GOP wanted to make back then? They wanted to cut social programs and Clinton wouldn't let them. About biggest thing that the GOP can hang their hat on is that they did work with Clinton to reform welfare instead of being "my way or the highway" about it. That's basic accounting that people don't seem to understand, to balance a budget you must increase revenue and decrease spending (cutting funding for office supplies just won't do it Mr. Boehner, in fact nothing you've said so far will even make a dent)

    January 24, 2011 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  11. Mike Dallas

    Not to worry, Petey, our new "republican" President will give you guys any and every thing you ask for.

    See how be buckled and added 1 trillion dollars to the deficit to finance the tax cuts as a template.

    January 24, 2011 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  12. A

    Obama is talking about investing in the infastructure which has been pretty much neglected for more than a decade. This country is already in bad shape when it comes to our education system. We had better smarten up and starting investing in the future generation or we will become a third world country.

    January 24, 2011 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  13. Dean

    Concerned liberal should not be concerned. When they run out of money they just borrow more and let someone else (taxpayers of future generations) pay the debt off.

    January 24, 2011 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  14. grndpa

    The Republicans argued that jobs were more important than balancing the budget when they demanded that the tax cuts be extended for the wealthiest Americans. While evidence that those tax cuts would or have helped the unemployment picture is very weak to non-existent, let's take it at face value. Therefore, they should also agree that drastic spending cuts to social and other programs should be delayed in order to avoid the inevitable job cuts that would result, and even though the deficit will increase.

    Unfortunately, the Republicans are using the deficit panic to try to eliminate programs they don't care to fund. Bottom line, if the congress fails to increase the debt limit in order to hold the President and the Democrats hostage, then the President should shut down those programs that would have the least immediate effects. Farm subsidies, subsidized grazing permits on Federal Land, and (unfortunately) student loans come to mind as things we can live without for awhile. Of course, even these traditional social welfare programs have a beneficial effect for America, so I would hope they can be put back into place before society in general suffers.

    January 24, 2011 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  15. Ben

    Go ahead, shut down the government. Then, like last time, the votes will shut you Republicans out of office. By the way, Clinton's budget surpluses were because of his policies–not your shutdown.

    January 24, 2011 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  16. Rickster

    Please tell me that this is so. Please tell me that the federal government is going to shut down.... for an extended period. At least that would give us(those of us who actually still work and pay taxes) a break from the democrats 24/7 mission of figuring out new ways to separate us from our money.

    January 24, 2011 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  17. Name king

    The lunatic repugs are bent on curtailing the fragile economic recovery, DEMAND DEMAND DEMAND, what drive the economy, when you take the spenders demand money how the hell do you expect local businesses to survive without customers, they employs 70 percent of the work force. You don't want to cut military nor entitlement programs because your older constituency don't want to lose their social security or Medicare, these are 85 percent of the budget. When you cut all the money you want out of the 15 percent left their won't be none of those programs left. How will the big businesses see the situation when their are no more demand on mainstreet, they are taking their jobs and packing up for china. The repugs are destine to ruin our fragile recovery through ignorance or a desperate hatred for Obama.

    January 24, 2011 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  18. Sgt. Schultz

    Go ahead. The Republicans don't do anything regardless. Why bother showing up for work if the Republican Congress does is make meaningless Pledges or other gimmicks to stall for time til the next election.

    January 24, 2011 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  19. Nick

    Yes, already they are saying where they will lay the blame for their "no action". We should say "No" to the "party of No".

    January 24, 2011 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  20. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Look at the GOP hate for America. Never has one party done so much damage to our country.

    January 24, 2011 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  21. GL

    But the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee told CNN Monday he's not ruling out that possibility "if the President just stonewalls – refuses to pass anything that will be responsible."

    Please make my day you far right nut job. I hope your party shut down government and your party will pay in 2012. MAKE MY DAy

    January 24, 2011 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  22. annie s

    Frankly, I hope the Republicans are dumb enough to shut down the government. Maybe then Americans will see that they have no willingness to compromise and no clue as to how to get anything constructive accomplished. It's their way or no way .

    January 24, 2011 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  23. GL

    Yes to go back to 2006 levels, that's just four years ago," said Sessions. "The country isn't going to sink into the ocean if we reduce spending that much. That would make a significant difference in our deficits, sending a message to the world that we're serious and I think create more confidence in our economic growth."

    Thank all your voters that put these same clowns right back in office.

    January 24, 2011 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  24. Kara

    Oh please, the reason they're so upset it because the lame duck backfired on them, and shutting down government will be even worse. It'll tank the stockmarket and even their buddies at the chamber of comerce will be furious with them.
    And furthermore, the next time a republican says 'spending cuts' would it kill the press to actually ask them WHERE they want to cut?

    January 24, 2011 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  25. Whatever

    Hmmm GOP lost control of Congress the last time they forced a shut down... go ahead make his day!!!

    January 24, 2011 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
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