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. al in memphis

    In this corner, we have the Republicans guarding the rich and powerful. In this corner, we have the Republican wanting to cut the budget for every government project but those that support corporate welfare. In this corner,we have Republicas who did not know their was a budget deficeit until Obama took office–in fact there fearless leader once said deficeit don't matter. In this corner, we have those that think government should not exist.
    Getting the point– things don't get done when you are dealing with people who agenda is not to get things done.

    September 26, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  2. sunsudo

    Hmmmm. Gop prez democrats control both houses of congress blame the GOP. Democrat prez, democrats still hold both houses of congress no budget for those two years blame the GOP, now GOP passes bill democrat controled senate won't even read it. Blame the GOP? hmmmmmmm facts seem to point to the democrats how funny is that.

    September 26, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  3. WDinDallas

    It is the Congressional Black Caucus's fault. All of it!!!

    September 26, 2011 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  4. Dick S

    The only people in the whole country that don't think the tea party is the root of the problem are members of the tea party. Everyone else, Republicans and Democrats and everyone in-between, knows this.

    September 26, 2011 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  5. Terry

    There is absolutely no debate or question that he Republicans are totally to blasme for disrespecting the President and being 100% totally obstructionist since they gained control of the House in 2010. The good thing is that hte message for average Americans and voters is that Republicans cannot be expected to do anything good or useful for the country and-in fact-wish to detsroy things like Social Securityand the middle class. DIVIDED GOVT. does not work at the Federal or State (look at Wisconsin) levels when Republicans have any sort of control. So, return to Democratic values and Democrats in 2012 or face total economic and cultural suicide as a nation!

    September 26, 2011 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  6. Kareem Cheez

    It's all Bush's fault.

    And stop blaming Obama. He didn't do nothin...

    September 26, 2011 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    “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.”
    The House sent over a bill they were told would be DOA before they even bought it to the House floor for a vote. Sen. Warner is correct in saying this move by right wing extremists in Congress is unprecedented. The House has always passed emergency funding bills for FEMA disaster relief without any conflict at all. Helping Americans neighbors in need has always taken a priority over polictical infighting and ideology. Until the Tea Party extremists took over the Republican Party.

    September 26, 2011 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |

    Ok, voted the teabaggers in and now they've taken their childish mentality and pretty much stopped anything and everything from progressing on any front. They've pushed religion into everything. They've done nothing but put every effort into making Obama a 1-term president at the expense of everybody else. It's time to expel the freshman class, along with just about everyone else in the house and senate. They've lost any've never had any. The tebag and GOP agenda is simple: 1. Get Obama out at any cost. 2. Get Obama out at any cost 3. Make rich and religous friends richer and interject religion into everything at any cost. 4. Get Obama out at any cost. Steps from here just repeat themselves.

    September 26, 2011 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    Why are they blaming the tea party and not the democrats for this. From what I see is the democrats are the ones refusing to compromise. we need to fund fema, but why not have offsets. Fema is more important than the programs that the tea party wants to cut.
    You answered your own question. Why must all of the cuts be *only* what the Tea Party wants to cut? Why not cut some of the corporate welfare to pay for FEMA?

    September 26, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  10. ThinkAgain

    "Any new spending must include cuts. We cannot have runaway spending going unchecked, we will end up like Greece."

    A HUGE contributing factor to Greece's financial crisis is the amount of tax evasion in that country – especially among the rich.

    If we don't want to "end up like Greece," then we need to raise – and collect – revenue on those who can most afford it: The rich.

    If the rich could invest and prosper and hire new workers when paying a top marginal rate of 39% under Clinton, they can do it now.

    September 26, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  11. *sigh*

    What if Hamas renamed itself the Palestinian Tea Party? lol

    September 26, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  12. ThinkAgain

    "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."

    Greece's economy is not very diverse AND they have a terrible track record of collecting taxes, especially from the wealthy. Tax evasion is a national pastime. Look it up.

    September 26, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  13. mike

    Sure, blame the Tea Partiers for it all. Let's see, they are the ones crying fiscal responsibility. If you give money in one place, you have to take it from another, it's that simple. QUIT SPENDING THE COUNTRY DOWN THE TUBES.

    September 26, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  14. JTW

    Both sides play games with bills and put things in the bills the other side will not allow to pass – just gamesmanship. We the American people are sick of Washington gamesmanship. With that in mind , the GOP is the most irresponsible when it comes to finances. The Bush years are proof of that. For the TP to suddenly decide we cannot spend a penny unless we gut every good agency in Washington (IRS, EPA, CPSA, FTC, SEC, FEMA, SS ,Medicare) every agency with oversight to ensure corruption is kept to a minimum or is part of a long and dearly loved social program , is obstruction and extortion on the American people. Yes we can cut spending, and there are may places to start, cut the military and cut the overseas bases, cut the pay of the Congress and Senate and make the take SS and Medicare like the rest of us. The TP is not just children with sassy mocking ridiculing mouths and propaganda Rhetoric but they have disdain for everyone who does not agree with them and they love obstruction even if it brings the country to destruction.. Yes the TP is dangerous but they are like spoiled bratty sassy children who need a slap in the face and detention until they can start to act like civil human beings. We are all in this together and we should be working together, but it has been the far right media who started the propaganda and hate rhetoric and they have divided this nation like never before.

    September 26, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "Fema is more important than the programs that the tea party wants to cut. "

    Tell that to the people whose jobs are dependent upon the loan program for hybrid car manufacture. Is the $4B we give to Big Oil without any demands that they pay it back (i.e., it's not a loan like the program the GOP is trying to cut) that more important than FEMA, more important than a program that's actually creating jobs? GOPers could've proposed cutting that $4B in spending and probably had 100+ Dems vote for the offset, despite it being bad precedent to tie disaster relief to offsets. Instead, the GOP is taking partisan pot-shots at programs that compete with their puppetmasters.

    September 26, 2011 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  16. Nick

    It's the Tea Party's fault because they hold the majority in the senate. No other party can vote to over rule that huge majority they have that is holding everything up.

    September 26, 2011 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    "America spoke in 2010"

    America spoke in 2008, and Republicans said "NO" through Senate filibusters. Conservatives love to say Democrats had control of both Houses for two years. Democrats had a filibuster proof majority for 8 months until Sen. Ted Kennedy passed.

    Since that time, Republicans have filibustered everything. The first two years of the Obama administration has seen more filibusters than the previous 40 years combined. To this day, there are still a number of department heads that remain unfilled since Obama took the oath of office!

    September 26, 2011 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  18. ThinkAgain

    "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."

    What about Germany? They are doing fine. One reason: Instead of laying off public sector employees, they cut back on hours (so 3/4 time) until the economy improved. That way, people still had jobs, still had pay and could still purchase goods and services and keep the economy chugging along.

    September 26, 2011 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain

    "I refuse to sell them FURTHER into government enslavement via taxation to pay for Obama's FAILED SOCIALISTS POLICIES."

    Were you this fired up when GW Bush took the Clinton surplus and turned it into a deficit by waging two wars and passing Medicare Part D, while simultaneously cutting taxes – something that HAD NEVER BEEN DONE in our nation's history?

    Or were you one of those bobble heads nodding along with Cheney in 2004 when he went on all the Sunday talk shows and said, "Deficits don't matter"?

    President Obama wants to spend money to INVEST in our country, to keep people employed and our economy going. The teabaggers and Republicans want to gut our government and throw everyone out onto the street, while their rich cronies siphon off what's left and ship every last American job overseas.

    Only a fool doesn't realize this...

    September 26, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  20. Sniffit

    "The rest of you will support him because you are either jealous of those that got ahead or you don't want your Obummie handouts to stop."

    It's so cute when you assume that people who support New Deal and Great Society programs or raising atxes on the extremely wealthy by closing loopholes and making sure their EFFECTIVE tax rate is not allowed to dip below what the middle-class pays...that we're all somehow deadbeats, layabouts and "welfare queens." It must be such a wonderful cartoonish land of simplistic dichotomies in your heads. I know it might be shocking for you...such that you totally ignore it and refuse to believe it...but alot of liberals and Dems are extremely educated, highly successful people who were simply cursed with a conscience and a sense of responsibility towards our fellow citizens. I certainly wouldn't trade it for the myopic, self-centered, frequently bigotted world view I see Teatrolls selling...even if it means my taxes would go up.

    September 26, 2011 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  21. ThinkAgain

    @Voice of the public: "America spoke in 2010."

    America spoke in 2008 when we elected a Democratic President, House and Senate. The ONLY reason the teabaggers won seats in 2010 was because of lower Democratic turnout at the polls.

    Republicans and teabaggers are inherently anti-American and anti-democratic. They are insisting that even though they do NOT represent the majority of Americans, only their policies should be enacted. Their goal is to disenfranchise anyone who disagrees with them.

    What's especially pathetic is how all these Republicans voters are blind to the fact that they are being used by the sponsors of the teabaggers, the Koch brothers and the other 400 wealthiest individuals in our country whose goal is to turn us into just another third-world nation.

    September 26, 2011 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  22. Scott

    Stop complaining that the Republicans are stopping the tax cuts from ending on the wealthiest. The Democrats had a super majority in the Congress and Senate and could have forced legislation through that would have bankrupted this nation but would have given you what you wanted. They didn't do it!, so stop trying to blame the GOP for it. They are trying to offset spending with spending cuts. What you should be writing your congressmen about isn't about raising taxes, but ending loopholes that would allow everyone to pay their tax liability and not be able to hide it in other ways. That is the reason rich people pay less in taxes, they can invest, get tax credits and writeoffs, and still be able to support themselves...these same loopholes are open to poor people, that just don't have the extra money to do it with, so end up having to pay their share of taxes.

    September 26, 2011 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  23. phoenix86

    Dems still blame the Tea Party, a true grass roots organzization, for this? The Tea Party is asking for government to be responsible, and that is a radical idea for dems.

    September 26, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  24. thomas

    @ Obama/Biden 2012 - Because 4 years of FAILURE just isn't enough , A Central Bank Executive , Florida Joe ,Obama's DOG has created more SHOVEL READY projects than Obama's FAILED Stimulus Plan ,TEA PARTY Mike , Amber and Matt.

    Who do you work for ? Where were you eight years ago when your guy Bush was took this country to the casino ?

    Sounds like you people should call Fred Thompson about your reverse mortgage , obviously you don't care about the future of your children or anybody else !

    WMDs, Enron , Lehman Brothers ,Countrywide ?

    Mission accomplish ! JOBS<JOBS<JOBS !

    September 26, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  25. Cindy

    This small and ignorant set of T.P. members are screwing up the country big time. Hopefully voters will "get it" next election cycle and vote these know-nothings out!

    September 26, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
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