Senators place blame for budget stalemate
September 25th, 2011
01:47 PM ET
10 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. Anonymous

    I truly dislike how the politics of BOTH parties are holding people hostage. Two months ago it was our lenders by not raising the debt ceiling, this month it’s departments and disaster victims. While increasing taxes or modifying benefit may be part of the final solution, we first must start by reducing spending. Obama’s deficit reduction plan is a joke and should be treated as such. Of his $3T plan, there was only $300B in supposed cuts over ten years.
    Really??? Obama could only find $30B in cuts per year on a $1T budget. He needs to get more serious before I can support him.

    September 26, 2011 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  2. hypatia

    It's about time they were roundly blamed for being the spoiled kids in the sandbox who would rather destroy the toys than share them.

    September 26, 2011 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  3. bfoto

    Let's see. First Barry runs the country into a financial crisis and now he wants to spend more, rather than eliminating some of the pork tht he created. And to do that he's fired up the old class warfare strategy. Those greedy investors and businesses that create 75% of all jobs are evil! To those of you that think any of BHO's increased spending will create jubs, except maybe to protect union workers, you are mistaken. The government will only grow larger and promulgate even more regulations on the private sector. And Oblama's version of bi-partisanship is "my way or the highway". It's all election year posturing.

    September 26, 2011 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  4. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Let's start assigning blame for this mess rather than actually fix it. If anyone in Congress wants to know who's to blame, all they have to do is look in the mirrior."

    Unfortunately they all seem to be pointing their fingers at one another in that all too familiar (to those of us who have raised children, anyway) cant of "it's NOT ME the folks are angry with, it's YOU." Considering just how low this particular Congress has fallen, the "it's NOT ME" crowd is losing the battle, especially considering that our entire government has come to a screeching halt, courtesy of this new Republican Party. Apparently the party of HELL NO never really had any solutions to begin with, thus their inability to handle even the most elementary of decisions is coming through loud and clear.

    September 26, 2011 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  5. News

    The Tea Party is Responsible for Japan's Earthquake and Subsequent failing of the Nuclear Reactors

    September 26, 2011 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  6. Geez

    @John "GOP is the minority party.Start acting like it.......You do not have the final say" So, you are saying that the minority should just keep quiet and know their place? Wow... just wow.

    September 26, 2011 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  7. enough of lies

    Yep, got to blame someone because congress and obama dont have the bells to accept responsibility for their misdoings, to bad we cant just trash these people and start with new ones, but Yep, they got to blame someone, just shows the Tea Party has Bells to stand up to the cry baby liberals, congress and the idiot in the white house, We take the Blame with a Big Smile.

    September 26, 2011 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  8. Sniffit

    "What planet do you live on? Greece can't afford itself and now nobody wants to lend it any more money because their socialist policies have run them to the end of the money line. It is EXACTLY what they (Thatcher?) said was the main problem with socialism, sooner of later you run out of other peoples money to spend. It is eihter cuts or total collapse. So you are advicating for total collapse. Typical leftist lunacy."

    I live on Earth, you? First of all, your blather about "soshulizm" is complete nonsense. Second, during an economic downturn, when demand sinks becuase of widespread unemployment and people not having money, one of the worst things you can do to exacerbate the lack of economic activity caused by said unemployment is further reduce economic activity by suddenly taking out of the economy all the economic activity associated with the government...government contracts, government spending on social assistance and good and services, etc. Removing that economic activity from the economy on top of a massive dip in economic activity from the private sector, i.e., the eviscerated middle-class, only serves to greatly worsen the problem, not fix it. That's simply the fact of the matter. You don't have to accept it for it to be the truth....and, clearly, it's a truth you don't want to hear because it runs directly contrary to your ideological hissy fit.

    September 26, 2011 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  9. vermontconstipation

    I always thought tea parties were for little girls with imaginary friends

    September 26, 2011 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  10. Bob

    How has your pay done? The super rich have seen a 400 increase in income and a 40 percent decrease in taxes (look it up). Yep, vote Republican: We need more war (probably attack Canada next), more deregulation like Enron, AIG, Goldman Sachs, Leman Bros, Banks, Wall Street (aren't they doing great). No unions, less teachers, less public safety, more money for insurance and drug companies, no taxing rich fairly, keep loop holes, Yep we need the Republicans because they did so much better.

    September 26, 2011 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  11. Dean

    In an America where anyone that actually stands firm on their beliefs because they believe they are right is automatically painted as an extremist and a zealot the Tea Party getting blamed for the budget stalemate is exactly what I expect. Whatever you do, don't blame the debt problem on the people that did the overspending for so many years.

    September 26, 2011 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  12. Frank

    There is no question that the Tea Party has done enormous damage to our country. They are little different from the SA Brownshirts in the 1920s and should not be dismissed simply because they are ignorant, prefer executing people even if they might be innocent, and letting sick uninsured people die, and want to carry guns to rallies. The Tea Party is dangerous and the GOP is lacking a knowledge of history.

    September 26, 2011 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  13. Chas in Iowa

    The Koch brothers and their Tea Party will be the abomination of this country until we vote everyoner associated with this movement out of office.
    Their main goal is just to disrupt the current administrationas much as possible sorta like Mitch McConnel's driving force in life.

    September 26, 2011 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  14. Montanagirl

    This is all smoke and mirrors to "place blame". Guess what, we have run out of blame. and it's time to act like grown-ups. The Pubs continue to block Democractic spendng ideas because WE CAN'T AFFORD THEM ANYMORE. Why would the noble opposition vote to pass bills that 1. Increases our debt 2. Raises taxes 3. Sink our grandchildren further into debt? When you are overdrawn at the bank, what do you do? Continue to spend money you don't have? Or cut back spending? This is a spending problem and we are looking to cut back. Raise taxes during the worst job depression since 1930? Insanity. Cut programs that spend billions w/o any accountability for the taxpayers? Awesome!!!!!

    September 26, 2011 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  15. Sandra M

    You mean a movement filled with radical right wing nut jobs with racists tendencies has this type of power? Power to force a stalemate? Good! Democrats have pulled every weapon out of the liberal arsenal to marginalize, villify, and demonize this movement. You can't have it both ways. The Democrats can't marginalize, belittle & demean this movement, then blame them for having the guts to stand up for what they believe in and the power to force a showdown.

    September 26, 2011 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  16. Voice of the public

    America spoke in 2010 and demanded control of runaway spending and government over reach. From all the bickering here some didn't get it. America will speak again in 2012 and it will be a tidal wave to wash the stench of Obama and his ilk from office.

    September 26, 2011 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  17. Aggie

    The only reason Obama has had such a hard time doing anything is because Congress is fighting him every inch of the way. They have been doing this since he was elected, following through on their stated objectives to reject anything coming from Obama, and to make sure he's a one-term president. The fact that they are hurting the country in the process does not concern them. The mid-term elections last year – the shellacking – is because most people expected instant cures, and did not give Obama enough time to do anything. And with the mid-term elections installing so many Republicans and Tea Party members, the public ensured that nothing would happen for the next 2 years. We can see this already, with the partisanship that is crippling America. And then they blame Obama because he can't work miracles. Congress is all about fighting Obama, not about helping America. And Americans are directly responsible for enabling Congress to do this. Wake up, people. You can't elect someone, take away all support, install people to fight him, regardless of the consequences, and expect him to be effective in the face of all odds. Blaming Obama is like blaming yourself, because you created the situation with your votes to install Republicans and Tea Party members last year. Your shortsightedness created the situation, and Congress jumped on the opportunity to show their callousness and disregard for the country.

    September 26, 2011 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  18. D-man

    How could anyone in their right mind say, 'no more cuts in defense'. Isn't $700 Billion a year enough? Enough to have useless bases in every far-flung spot on the planet? Enough to fight more useless wars in hell-holes that don't give a damn about the US? Slash the heck out of that pig of a budget.

    September 26, 2011 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  19. Florida Joe

    I applaud the Tea party for re-instating SOUND FISCAL POLICY to an out of control Democrat government. Enough of reckless and irresponsible spending madness that will bring us to where Greece is today, the verge of bankruptcy.


    September 26, 2011 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  20. delilahjones

    @Amber, Seriously?? "The Repulblican's haven't had enough power to block everything Obama has tried." Really? The Republicans in the Senate have filibustered nearly every bill since President Obama became President, preventing the initiative they agreed upon in committee from reaching a vote. They used the filibuster over 90 times and rendered the Senate useless. They don't want the economy to improve under Obama as that would increase his chances of reelection. They would rather the country fail. I am an Independent and will remember this in 2012.

    September 26, 2011 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  21. Dave

    ironside said:

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

    ...amen brother!

    September 26, 2011 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  22. Jayson

    Yes, how dare those rascally Tea Party members vote against green energy subsidization....

    September 26, 2011 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  23. Sniffit

    "I always thought tea parties were for little girls with imaginary friends"

    Well, it's a pretty close analogy actually: they're similarly immature and full of wild imaginings and childish delusions.

    September 26, 2011 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  24. ReallY!!?

    Don't forget the Tea Party is responsible for Katrina, Irene, Earthquakes in Haiti, earthquakes, sunamis, the failure of European socio-economic economies, and climate change!

    September 26, 2011 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  25. Obama/Biden 2012 -- Because 4 years of FAILURE just isn't enough

    First of all, your blather about "soshulizm" is complete nonsense.
    Gee Sniffit, where are all your facts to prove socialism is doing so great in Greece??!! And all over Europe?? You GOT NONE so you simply ignore and dismiss the SOCIALIST FAILURE in Europe. Are was that all George Bush's fault too?!! hahaha

    And for cutting government spending, YES you DO CUT government spending when it is spending TRILLIONS OF BORROWED MONEY that our kids, grand kids, great grand kids will have to repay. I refuse to sell them FURTHER into government enslavement via taxation to pay for Obama's FAILED SOCIALISTS POLICIES.

    September 26, 2011 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
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