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. POTUS boots another one

    Say, here's a ridiculous plan. Send the bill back to the house with ONE codicil attached. "Since FEMA is vital to the citizenry, it shall get whatever money is needed to help the citizens, but since the spending crisis is so vital to the party, the party and its supporters and opponents agree to work day and night, no holidays, pay or perks to define and present a bipartisan bill that can pass both houses – BUT the "wrangling" shall in no way impede the immediate needs of the people." I would sign that one, Mr. President

    September 26, 2011 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  2. TJeff1776

    The Tea group attempts to copy the spirit of the Boston Tea Party. Its ironic- but compares not. Todays TP are dishonest
    and I do mean openly and clearly dishonest. They defend a tax policy of 17% for the wealthy and 30% for the poor- ten set back and declare "its legal isn't it"- as though to justify the policy. THEN have the STUPID audacity to "but we give jobs". The American people give more jobs than ALL corporations put together. I hire barbers to cut my hair, grocery
    handlers, mechanics to fix car, etc etc etc. SO what is it that makes the rich better than the poor ???? Do they not pull up their pants and put on dresses the same way. ONE THING for SURE- we do ALL vote the same way and conser WILL feel my next one.

    September 26, 2011 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  3. Rinos for Winos

    Enough extortion from the Tea Party. This is not time to play politics with funding. The Tea Party believes they are being fiscally responsible but rather it is my way or the highway. This is all about power and control from the Tea Party.

    September 26, 2011 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  4. Anthony

    Republicans, if you don't want to pass the president's job bill, come up with your own job bill. You campaigned on jobs in 2010, remember?

    September 26, 2011 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  5. Anthony

    Republicans campaigned on jobs in 2010 but the only thing they know how to do is government shutdown. Since Obama kept the Bush tax cuts and added more tax cuts in the stimulus, Republicans know that they can't add more tax cuts without adding to the deficit, which is already projected to be 1 trillion next year, even with Republicans writing the budget.

    September 26, 2011 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  6. blf83

    Until the Tea Partiers accept the idea that cooperation, collaboration, and compromise are essential to governing in a democracy, their intransigence borders on economic treason.

    September 26, 2011 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  7. JeffinIL

    The Tea Party is becoming a convenient stalking horse for the Republicans. There aren't enough tea party congressmen in place to cause these problems alone.

    September 26, 2011 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  8. rude

    The Tea zombies are determined to destroy this government rather than have a BLACK man run it.

    September 26, 2011 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  9. Stephen in VA

    "'Everybody knows we’re going to pay for every single penny of disaster aid that the president declares and that FEMA certifies,' Alexander insisted." If everybody knows it, why don't you just shut up and do it? Quit playing this political football game, folks, and just do what's right–fund emergency disaster aid projects first.

    September 26, 2011 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  10. Larry L

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

    Sorry Rick, this won't wash. 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 democracy. We don't need Republicans and their pledges – just the Koch brothers and their mob of mindess and fearful followers in the Tea Party. This group has done more damage to America than all terrorists combined.

    September 26, 2011 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  11. Anonymous

    its only one thing that is happening.. its spending money they dont have... a responsible person or nation would not spend what they dont have...your saying take the riches money .. im poor i cant spend money i dont have or earn... i dont want the riches money nor helped by it thru govt i want my own working how am i gonna the rich spending THIER money not by the govt taking the riches money an spending it on a very limited group of people n not me...who never wanted a piece of other peoples money.... nor the govts in the first place... i wont have work if the govt taxes the riches money an spends it... who will get ..oh that would be the people who have been the only ones working the past 3 years or so or the ones collecting some handout all this time....ill even work cheaper...why because im forced to... why

    September 26, 2011 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  12. Sylvestor Johnson

    After this next election, we should have enough Tea Party folks in office that there won't be so much fighting. Hang in there folks (and haters), we'll gain some more seats in 12, then the REAL (more like open heart surgery) will go down.

    September 26, 2011 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  13. indepinFL

    The blame game is a circle, the Dems want to spend more of that which they do not have and the Repubs want to hold or cut. But since both need to get themselves re-elected the very convenient "Tea-Party" is always the reason given for the stalemate. The fact that this group has not even been able to pass a non-binding budget says all their is to say about the WH, President and Dems. ability to pass or lead anything. The "Solyndra"gift would have taken care of the FEMA funding.

    September 26, 2011 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  14. Bill in VA

    I really like Mark Warner. Even voted for him. He is one of the more sensible Democrats, generally. But here he goes with the blame game instead of a solutins game. Sure we need to fund FEMA. No one questions that. But why should we not figure out where we can cut to pay for it (and not just here, but in other areas as well). I want FEMA around another day. We are broke. So sensible cuts to come up with money makes sense. I don't understand why people think we can still have a blank check. Why not cut a failed program that just gave up $500 million for nothing. Why not eliminate subsidies that in effect pick winners and loser in a free market. I certainly don't agree with the tea party movement in all respects but they are dead on when it comes to debt and deficits.

    September 26, 2011 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  15. Robert

    Hey! We're looking at this wrong: This is a bipartisan effort to be partisan. Both sides are using these situations to their advantage...

    September 26, 2011 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  16. Josh

    Wow. Some of you are really dense. We can not continue to spend money like it’s nothing. When you have a personal or family emergency, sure, you may need to put something on a credit card, but that debt eventually has to be paid off. Democrats refuse to pay for their spending. This is why the economy is tanking.

    If it takes being called the party of no to get the liberal agenda to grind to a halt, then by all means, call us the party of no. I’d rather be called the party of no than the party of marx, or the party of che guevara, or the party of tax and spend.

    September 26, 2011 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  17. Larry of Boston

    Has Obama Reid Pelosi and Kerry all lost their minds?. Offsetting increases in a FEMA budget with other spending cuts is not just sane, reasonable AND DEMONSTRATING fiscal discipline, IT IS IMPERATIVE. With the help of main stream media, the Dems are painting the Tea PARTY AS OBSTRUCTIONISTS, WHEN IN REALITY, THEY ARE THE ONLY SANE PEOPLE IN DC. Wake up America. we are broke as a nation. we continue to spend beyond our means – which will guarantee a terrible future for our kids and grandkids. We need to cut out the speniodng for which we do no thave the money. If the maintream media were doing their jobs fairly, they would call for the immediate impeachment of Obama. He has been in office 3 years (almost) and has not yet submitted a single budget. Good for the Tea Party – shut the govern,ment down if our so called leaders do not onw how to manage taxpayer money. I am sick of Obama and the dems using tgheir slick sound bytes and outright lies to try to push the blame for this mess onto the GOP and specifically the Tea Party. Mr reid this is not about compromise, it is about balancing a budget and spenidng within your means. No part of government – nbot FEMA not DOD not Social Security shou;ld be allowed to spend money it does not have –this is money management 101.

    September 26, 2011 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  18. indepinFL

    Interesting that any mention by name of green job monies recently squandered gets a comment blocked. The "Tea-Party" is a very convenient excuse for every pathetic failure of leadership by both parties. The half billion squandered would have taken care of FEMA but unfortunately FEMA is not a political contributor.

    September 26, 2011 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  19. indepinFL

    Can anyone say Solyndra and one half billion dollars – yeah, this group should be given more taxpayer money. Bill Clinton got it right. Taxing the rich won't solve this mess, we need leadership not political blame game speeches.

    September 26, 2011 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  20. demogoat

    United we stand. Divided we fall. It is time for congress, and we the people, to understand that we have a partisan problem.

    September 26, 2011 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  21. A Kickin` Donkey

    It doesn`t take STRENGTH or MATURITY or RESPONSIBILITY to simply say NO to everything without proposing alternate solutions which CAN PASS on a MAJORITY RULE basis.

    "Conservatives" & "Conservatism" ARE NOT virtues.

    It takes STRENGTH & INTELLIGENCE to formulate a vision, develop the details [rather than lofty talking points], propose a SOLUTION and say YES to something.

    Americans that want prgress, Independents, the Republican Party is Giving you the Finger. What are you going to do about it?

    September 26, 2011 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  22. indepinFL

    What is embarrassing is that we elect people to run our government whose resume's wouldn't get them in the front door of any fortune 500 company. And then we wonder why they can't navigate through this financial crisis that they created.

    September 26, 2011 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  23. paul

    The tea party just doesn't realize that you can't solve the debt problem in one year. There must be a plan over 10 or 20 years to pay down this amount and then congress must stick to it. They are hurting this country and the economy by insisting on pay down immediately.

    September 26, 2011 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  24. Bill

    God forbid you actually pay as you go. Senate Dems party of welfare.

    September 26, 2011 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  25. RLA

    Ah a brave new woeld! Pay for things. I am sure this is a shocking development for the political parties GO TEA PARTY philosophy!

    September 26, 2011 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
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