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. mre2

    STOP the blaming. It only serves to harden the polarization that keeps the two sides divided. This is not about the GOP unless you are from the other side, and it’s not about the Dem’s unless you are from the right. It is about both generally refusing to work together in any way to develop a consensus. Stop the partisan blame game. Both sides are equally at fault for not doing their jobs.

    A true leader wouldn’t blame. Leaders forego blame and find the path to results and solutions. He or She would step up and work to get the problem resolved. I just haven’t seen that happen. I have heard a lot of finger pointing and little acceptance of responsibility that comes with the job. Continuing the blame theme will keep that from happening.

    September 25, 2011 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  2. tom l

    Enough already of this mindless drive! The Tea Party movement is doing exactly what they said they would do–try to bring some common sense to play on an out of control Congress and presidents during the past many decades. Richard Nixon accomplished more by bipartisan consensus-builiding during his tempestuous presidency than every president and Congress since. The Democrats are using the Tea Party purely as a straw man to inflame voters to foster their chances of winning the 2012 elections. Both the Democrat and Republican leadership in both houses of Congress are mindless and childlike. Both are intransigent, pouty pusses that don't deserve to be serving our country. I cringed in anguish after the 2010 elections when both Harry Reid and MItch McConnell won reelection (not even mention Queen Nancy). I knew at that moment the future of the country was doomed. I agree with other comments that we cannot endure more stalement and gamesmanship looking forward to the next rounds of election. What we really need to do is engage in a mulit-million people's march on DC come next January when the next session of Congress begins and hold both the House and Senate hostage until they get the job done: pass a budget immediately without anymore continuing resolutions (a constitutional ammendment banning such might be a necessity) if the current bunch of namby pamby negative nay-saying naybobs from "never-never"-land (Congress and the president) don't get their collective arses in gear and do their duty for us, the country, and . . .

    September 25, 2011 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  3. Bill

    So from the extremely partisan comments above, I must assume that Democrats think it is OK to let their grandchildren pay for the unexpected FEMA funding. C'mon people, are you for real? If the brakes on your car go out, you choose to not eat out for the next couple of weeks, not put the car repairs on the credit card and continue spending like a drunken sailor. We borrowed $1400B this year and we can't cut out a few measly billions?

    September 25, 2011 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  4. Inrealityhere

    Oh, so the Tea Party is at fault? HA! Hopefully millions more will join this party and "we the people" will take our country back from the corrupt government that is supposed to be serving us rather than us lining their pockets with our tax $$.

    September 25, 2011 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  5. blake

    You have a majority in Congress - all the Democrats and about half of the Republicans that want to continue with business as usual. Making on minor changes to a budget that is leading the U.S. rapidly into a situation as bad or worse than Greece. You have a minority (the conservative Republicans) who are the only ones facing reality and saying that we can not continue to tax and spend as we have for decades. We must make massive spending cuts. We must stop deficit spending. And somehow they are to blame? Duh!

    September 25, 2011 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  6. Mfhohn

    I can't figure out what is wrong with having budget cuts for Green jobs to offset included additional money for disaster relief through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, I guess the Dems want to make sure their Solyndra friends get all the money they can steal from the taxpayer.

    September 25, 2011 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  7. John

    It just proves another theory. Incest does tend to produce idiots, watch the film Deliverancefor further proof. The Tea Party idiots are living proof!

    September 25, 2011 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  8. j

    Tea partiers want a quicdk fix to a complicated problem. If their desires were followed to the letter, this country would immediately sink into a deep depression an 29 crash and resulting Great Depression except worse. People today are different than the 30`s and the poor/ middle class would probably revolt.--- Read the causes of the 29 crash, Hoover`s actions (cut spending) and the outcome. That`s where we are now---

    September 25, 2011 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  9. Terry

    The Tea Party cannot accept that a majority of Americans elected a Black President. The Tea Party will not accept the fact that the Bush Administration bailed out Wall Street, after eliminating all banking regulations that allowed the failures that brought down the American Economy. So the Tea Party would rather see the United States completely fail, rather than work together with Democrats to save American Jobs. The Tea Party has nothing but hatred for Americans who voted for Obama, and the best part is that 52% of White American Males voted for Obama. So look within your ranks Tea Party Members, you have members who actually voted for Obama in 2008, and those same members will be voting for Obama in 2012.

    September 25, 2011 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  10. lewtwo

    The Tea Party is still trying to destroy the USA. They should be added to the list of terrorist groups and moved up to the position as the US's number one enimy (internal or externnal).

    September 25, 2011 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  11. ThinkAgain

    @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."

    I would like to add (tongue in cheek, but still ...) that since the 2010 elections when the teabaggers took office our country has suffered an unprecedented number of natural disasters.

    I think God is trying to make a point ... He doesn't like teabaggers ...

    September 25, 2011 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  12. I pay my fair share-how about you?

    The democrats had two years of control in the house, senate and the white house and failed to pass a budget, just continued to run the money printing press..Harry Reid is little more than a sore loser because the house is doing work that he and his pal, Pelosi, didn't have the backbone to do. Those of you on this post who rant and rave about the tea party cutting taxes for the rich are really just pissed off because you want those of us who pay to give you more of what we work for. Guess what guys? It takes money to run this great country-including yours. Not just mine. I work my rear off earning my living.

    September 25, 2011 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  13. Sagebrush Shorty

    Democrats can't even submit a budget.

    September 25, 2011 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  14. falcon615

    I love how people call the administration "Marxist" and "socialist". Talk about spitting out Glenn Beck and other right wing liars. That's right– liars. They are telling you Obama and dems are socialist. Look it up. Study the USSR and Bolsheviks. But you are doing what the Tea Party wants– cut education so we can't learn. Obama's policies have actually been centrist historically speaking. Only the ENTERTAINERS like Rush (he knows he's an entertainer, but people take it like Gospel) are feeding false information and people like the Tea Party people believe it as truth and in comparison, the CENTRIST views look extreme. I love how "disgusted" talks about needing to balance the budge, but s/he only wants education, welfare and social security cut. Where is defense in there? Again, regurgitating the attack on the middle and lower classes. Hopefully the US will wake up before we find ourselves at the bottom of the barrel in comparison to the rest of the world.

    September 25, 2011 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  15. Will

    Tea Partiers were elected to get Gov spending under control. It's amazing how much backlash they get for doing what they were sent to Washington to do.
    The bill can be passed without Tea Party votes, Dems just don't want to work with Pubs and vise versa.

    September 25, 2011 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  16. I pay my fair share-how about you?

    How many people on this site actually paid federal income taxes last year? I'd bet most of those who are upset are in the 46% who sponged off the rest of us and don't want to see their gravy train taken away. Guess what? Freedom isn't free and we didn't promise you a free lunch.

    September 25, 2011 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  17. polite centrist

    Can we please have a political party without extreme left OR extreme right?
    The Whigs are making a comeback...

    September 25, 2011 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  18. Liberty Queen

    Yes, it's the Pea Party with their pea brains and fat posteriors and the GOP... Geezers and Old Pigs... along with big pharma, big oil and the gun-runners who have hijacked the United States economy and ordinary people who create the wealth and pushed us and our families and friends into poverty, foreclosure, homelessness and joblessness. Check out the action on wall street since September 17th by people who really have the guts to put a stop to the enslavement of U.S. citizens by the twisted global elite www. livestream. com [forward slash] global revolution

    September 25, 2011 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  19. Ron

    Republicans have made it clear: their one agenda is to defeat Obama. The country and the economy can be damned. I think they actually WANT the economy to get worse so they can beat Obama. I'm 70 years old. I've never seen the kind of consistent, deliberate, vituperative actions on the part of either party–until now.

    September 25, 2011 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  20. Marvalea

    dylan, no one is suggesting that ALL of the funds necessary to keep the government running be borrowed. But, to continually cut the services available for the most vulnerable, be it the long-term unemployed or seniors, without permitting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest among us – and Corporate America – is just not fiscally prudent! WHERE are the most vulnerable to get the help they need to feed and clothe their families during these tough times if all social services are cut? Churches? They're too busy building multi-million churches here, as well as churches and free clinics in third world countries! Neighbors? I, for one, am maxed out ... I've been helping my adult son and his family for 2 years with no end in sight! I've watched 1/3 of my 401K fund evaporate with the uncertainty of the market while the wealth of the wealthiest among us has nearly doubled thanks to GWB tax cuts and loopholes that are not available to me! I don't begrudge anyone becoming wealthy. I don't need to be wealthy to be happy. I need to be able to care for my elderly father and help my son .. I'm doing MY part and all I want in return is some hope that a fraction of what I've managed to save over the years will be there when I'm FINALLY able to retire!

    Every generation has passed debt to the next! Where would WE be if our grandparents had not "invested" in this nation's infrastructure? Every generation has found a way to pay that debt! Obviously "private enterprise" is NOT going to create the jobs necessary to pull this nation out of this economic mess – it is sitting on TRILLIONS thanks to the GWB tax cuts and outsourcing. The government – in conjunction with private enterprise (those willing to participate in the rebuilding of this nation) – CAN create jobs by updating our infrastructure, THEN requiring ALL companies which utilize that infrastructure to conduct its business pay a fee for that usage for maintenance. NO taxpayer funds should be paid to ANY contractor not hiring U.S. citizens. All work permits for legal immigrants should cease until all Americans who want to work ARE working. All aide to foreign countries should cease until such time as THIS nation is again solvent.

    September 25, 2011 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  21. tv22

    Read the article people, the House sent up a bill, the Senate rejected it. Imagine the nerve of Republicans to stick to what Obama said about paying for spending.

    September 25, 2011 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  22. ConservativeNorth

    Americans it's time to wake up and smell the coffee. Obama had 2 years unimpeded and last November America woke up and elected true Conservatives. In Addition Republicans are continuing the referendum on Obama with the most recently elected Republicans. The Obama Regime is now "Checked" rather than continuing to go "Unchecked". If anyone wants a efficient political system to back in time to Nazi Germany. Efficient Gov't is not in the best interest for any country. We're supposed to have inefficiencies in Gov't as it allows for slow, responsible transformations to occur with balance, rather than night and day lob-sided transformations we see today. America in over its eyeballs in debt. We have to make large spending cuts before the across the board cuts kick in. Our Bi-Partisan committee is going to have a hard time doing this. It makes no sense for democrats to increase spending when we need to reduce it. The President and Democrats continue to pitch every political conflict as an attack on Americans which is just FALSE. This country is in debt, has a bi-partisan obligation to cut spending, it has the funds available to keep the spending cuts on track and help millions of Americans with Disaster relief. Yet Democrats would rather fund Green Projects and unfairly fund specific companies than help out disaster victims. If the US Gov't had to play by the same rules that every American has to, there would be no increase in spending at the level we're at. This country would have to make tough choices, it would need to prioritize. All Democrats are trying to do is get away with spending more money in projects that they support because they know we'll be cutting across the board and they'd want to pump in as much money as they can before then.

    The Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Branches and their subdivisions are designed as a means of Checks and Balances. It prevents one part of government to get too big or too efficient. We need to have the majority of this country aligned for transformations to take place. Society continues to push being "Politically Correct" so we might as was be tolerant of people's political stance. With that said, it's fine to voice opinions, it not fine to voice slander. If people want change they will just need to understand that Representatives can vote how they want and should not be harassed into going against their principles. However there is some responsibility that goes along with it. If Democrats are driving the Car (They control the majority of the each Branch/the Country) and of they are trying to reach their destination (their agenda/political goals) and they'll need extra gas (Republican Votes) to get to their destination they are going to need to lower their expectations (compromise with republicans), or run out of gas (refuse negotiations with republicans), but either way it's still Democrats' responsibility to get the car off the road and onto the shoulder rather than let it stall in the middle of the road.

    For all the name callers out there, shut up, "Don't hate the player, hate the game"

    September 25, 2011 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  23. TomNPitt

    The Tea-Baggerz need to go. That shouldbe the goal of the Democrats. Except the Democrats have no testicles. The tea-Baggerz are reckless. They only care about defeating Obama – the Hell with the United States. They need to be handled with Second Amendmentt rights.They need to be shown they're not the on;y people with weapons.They need to know the Democrats aren't afraid to use them either. They continue to push and push. They need to be stopped!!!

    September 25, 2011 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  24. kat

    Face it! the blame is politics. They all want to be re-elected. The American people are not important. If they cut welfare, they won't get the welfare vote.If they cut government loans for green energy they won't get their vote, if they stand up to the corrupt unions, they will not get the union vote. It's a No win for the hard working American. We have lost our voice in Washington to Unions, Lobbyist and others who can get their bluff in over our politicians. We need to start over and take our country back.

    September 25, 2011 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  25. Former Republican, now an Independent

    Living in the state of Tennessee, I can tell you that Lamar Alexander was a lousy, dishonest governor and would be our worst senator if it wasn't for Bob Corker. These two are a very big part of the problem in Washington and are card holding members of the obstructionist party of NO. No ideas to solve our problems, no cooperation with those who do, and no help to the American people at all.

    September 25, 2011 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
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