The last continuing resolution passed by a 91-9 margin in the Senate. Yesterday, the Senate passed a second CR, this time by a vote of 87-13. And another $6 billion was cut from the 2011 budget. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) seemed pleased with his handiwork, declaring the “vote starts the clock ticking again.”
A senior Senate adviser wisecracked, “A month ago, they said they couldn’t possibly cut a dime. Then they said the $4 billion [in] cuts in the first CR were a non-starter. Now they’re bragging about cutting spending?” It is a remarkable turn of events and another sign that Reid was bested in this round of budget battling. Twice now he capitulated to House Republicans.
Reid and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had a chat about the budget on Wednesday. This one is likely to be the final compromise on the remainder of the 2011 budget. Having chopped $10 billion already, the fight now is between the Senate number ($0) and the House number ($51 billion, the remainder of the $61 billion in cuts the Republicans initially wanted). Although the White House has given the suggestion of including taxes and entitlements in the 2011 budget discussions the back of the hand, Reid was at it again: “‘We can’t balance the budget with 12 percent of the budget,’ he said, referring to the size of the non-defense discretionary budget. Reid said that he’s urging Boehner to expand the talks beyond the discretionary budget and include entitlements and revenues.”
But wait. Didn’t Reid say Social Security was off the table? Yes, this is yet another dodge by Reid. One suspects, if the last few weeks are any guide, that a deal will be struck closer to $51 billion in cuts than to zero.