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Patty M.
Democrat WA

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  • Concurrent Resolution on the Budget Fiscal Year 2014

    by Senator Patty Murray

    Posted on 2013-03-20

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    MURRAY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate now proceed to the consideration of Calendar No. 28, S. Con. Res. 8.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection? Without objection, it is so ordered.

    The clerk will report the concurrent resolution by title.

    The bill clerk read as follows: A concurrent resolution (S. Con. Res. 8) setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2014.

    Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that any time spent in quorum calls during consideration of S. Con. Res. 8 be equally divided.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

    Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that no amendments be in order for the remainder of today's consideration of S. Con. Res. 8.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

    Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the use of calculators be permitted on the floor during consideration of the budget resolution.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

    Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that staff be permitted to make technical and conforming changes to the resolution, if necessary, consistent with amendments adopted during Senate consideration, including calculating the associated change in the net interest function under section 104, and incorporating the effect of such adopted amendments on the budgetary aggregates under section 101 for Federal revenues, the amount by which Federal revenues should be changed, new budget authority, budget outlays, deficits, public debt, and debt held by the public.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

    Mrs. MURRAY. Finally, Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent the period of debate for economic goals and policy under section 305(b) of the Congressional Budget Act occur on Thursday, March 21, at a time to be determined by the two managers.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

    Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, we are now on the floor of the Senate with the budget, and I wish to start by thanking my counterpart, Senator Sessions, for all his work and his staff's work--and all our staff--to get us to this point this evening that we are debating this bill and this amendment. Senator Sessions has been very gracious in working with us. We have gotten to this. We obviously have differences of opinion, but I wish to commend him for the tremendous amount of work he has put into this. It is going to be great to be working with him on the floor.

    When I go back home to Washington State, my constituents tell me they are sick and tired of the gridlock and dysfunction in Washington, DC. They can see that our economy is slowly getting back on its feet and businesses are beginning to hire more workers, but my constituents--and people across the country--are very frustrated that the constant political crises are holding our recovery back right when we need to be doing everything possible to support it.

    After 2 years of debate about fiscal and economic policy and an election in which voters spoke loudly and clearly, the American people want their elected representatives to stop arguing and reach some solutions. I come to the floor to discuss a budget plan that meets this challenge.

    The Senate budget that passed through the Budget Committee last week, with the strong support of all 10 Democrats and 2 Independents, is a responsible and balanced plan that puts the economy first and tackles our deficit and debt responsibly and credibly. I am hopeful that after it passes the Senate, the House of Representatives stands ready to compromise as well, and we can come together around a balanced and bipartisan deal that the American people expect and deserve.

    The budget debate is too often discussed in terms of abstract numbers and political winners and losers. But the truth is that budgets are about far more than that. They are about our values and our priorities. They are about our visions for how government should be serving its citizens today and for generations to come, and, most of all, they are about the people across the country whose lives are impacted by the decisions we make.

    The budget we will be debating on the floor this week puts those people first. It reflects the progrowth, pro-middle-class agenda that the American people went to the polls in support of last election. I believe it is a strong and responsible vision for building a foundation for growth and restoring the promise of American opportunity.

    Our budget is built on three principles. No. 1, we need to protect our fragile economic recovery. We need to create jobs and invest in long-term growth. No. 2, we need to tackle our deficit and our debt fairly and responsibly. No. 3, we need to keep the promises we have made as a nation to our seniors and our families and our communities.

    The highest priority of our budget is to create the conditions for job creation, economic growth, and prosperity built from the middle out, not the top down. We believe that with the unemployment rate that remains stubbornly high and a middle class that has seen their wages stagnate for far too long, we simply cannot afford any threats to our fragile recovery. So this budget fully replaces the cuts from sequestration that threatens 750,000 jobs this year alone and economic growth for years to come, as well as our national security, and the programs families and communities depend on. It replaces those automatic cuts in a fair and responsible way following the precedent that was set in the year-end deal.

    Half of the new deficit reduction to replace sequestration comes from responsible spending cuts across the Federal budget and half comes from new savings found through closing loopholes and cutting wasteful spending in the Tax Code that benefits the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations.

    In addition to replacing sequestration with deficit reduction that is far more responsible, our budget follows the advice of experts and economists across the political spectrum who say it makes sense to invest in job creation in the short term while putting ourselves on a strong path to responsible and sustainable deficit and debt reduction over the medium and long term.

    We believe that in order to truly tackle our economic and fiscal challenges in the real world and not just make them disappear on paper, we need a strong foundation for growth built from the middle out. So this budget invests in a $100 billion economic recovery protection plan to put workers back on the job repairing our Nation's highest priority deteriorating infrastructure and fixing our crumbling schools and installing critical educational technology such as broadband that our students need to succeed.

    This plan creates an infrastructure bank to leverage public funds with private investment. It invests in our workers by making sure they have the skills and training they need to move into the 3.6 million jobs businesses across the country are trying to fill, and it is fully paid for by closing loopholes and cutting unfair spending in the Tax Code that mainly benefit the well-off and well-connected.

    Our budget also makes sure we are not reducing our fiscal deficit while increasing our deficits in education and skills and infrastructure and innovation. While cutting spending responsibly overall, it protects our investments in national, middle-class, and economic priorities, such as our [[Page S1991]] schools and our roads and bridges and our clean energy and manufacturing industries.

    This budget puts jobs first and our economy first and foremost, but it also builds on the work we have done over the last 2 years to tackle our deficit and debt responsibly.

    In 2010, President Obama established the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform--commonly referred to as Simpson- Bowles. That bipartisan group came back with a report recommending approximately $4 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years from a balanced combination of spending cuts and new revenue. The report pointed out that this level of deficit reduction is more than any effort in our Nation's history. Other bipartisan groups, including Domenici-Rivlin and the Senate's Gang of 6, as well as economists across the political spectrum, agreed that $4 trillion over 10 years was a reasonable and responsible goal. Since that time, Congress and the administration have worked together to reduce the deficit by $2.4 trillion--$1.8 trillion coming from spending cuts, $600 billion from allowing tax rates to rise on the wealthiest Americans in the year-end deal.

    The Senate budget takes us the rest of the way to the $4 trillion goal and beyond. It builds on that $2.4 trillion in deficit reduction already done with an additional $1.85 trillion in new deficit reduction, for a total of $4.25 trillion in deficit reduction since the Simpson-Bowles report. It reduces the deficit to below 3 percent of GDP by 2015 and keeps it well below that level for the rest of the 10-year window in a responsible way and it pushes our debt as a percentage of the economy down, moving it in the right direction.

    Our budget tackles this issue the way the American people have consistently said they want it done--with an equal mix of responsible spending cuts made across the Federal budget and new revenue raised by closing loopholes and cutting wasteful breaks that primarily benefit the rich.

    This budget cuts spending responsibly by $975 billion, and we make some tough choices to get there. We think every program--including the ones we know are important--need to be wringing out waste, trimming fat, and reducing costs to taxpayers. So $500 billion of our deficit reduction comes from responsible savings on the domestic spending side, including $275 billion in health care savings made in a way that doesn't harm our seniors or our families. We believe everything should be put on the table, but we do it in a responsible way that preserves, protects, and strengthens programs such as Medicare and Medicaid that the American people strongly support.

    This budget saves $240 billion by carefully and responsibly reducing defense spending while giving the Pentagon enough time to plan and align those savings. We all know this involves some tough decisions, but it is a responsible path that is nothing like the across-the-board cuts from sequestration which would be devastating to defense programs and jobs if they weren't replaced.

    This budget takes a balanced approach to deficit reduction, and it matches the responsible cuts with $975 billion in new revenue which is raised by closing loopholes and cutting wasteful spending in the Tax Code for those who need it the least, while locking in tax cuts for the middle class and low-income working families and protecting them from paying a penny more.

    This shouldn't be controversial. There is bipartisan support for making the Tax Code more fair and more efficient. We just think that instead of that savings going toward more tax cuts for the rich, that savings ought to be used to reduce the deficit and invest in our middle class.

    If this budget were to be enacted, the total deficit reduction since the Simpson-Bowles report would consist of 64 percent spending cuts, 14 percent tax rate increases on the rich, and 22 percent new revenue raised by closing loopholes and cutting wasteful spending in the Tax Code for the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations. That is a responsible approach. It is a balanced and fair approach. It is the one that is endorsed by bipartisan groups and experts, and it is the one supported by the vast majority of the American people.

    In addition to investing in jobs and economic growth and tackling our deficit and debt responsibly, this budget also keeps the promises we have made to our seniors, to our families, to our veterans, and to our communities. We think Medicare should be protected and preserved for our children and our grandchildren, and we absolutely reject calls to dismantle or privatize Medicare by voucherizing it.

    The House Republican budget being considered this week could also repeal the health care law and increase the cost of care to our seniors, throw students off their parents' plans, cause tens of millions more Americans to be uninsured, and put the insurance companies back in charge of patients' care. Our budget rejects that approach, and it builds on the health care law to continue reducing costs responsibly, increasing efficiencies, and improving care.

    Our budget also maintains the key principle that every other bipartisan group has maintained but that has been rejected by the House Republicans. We don't think the burden of deficit reduction should be unfairly borne by the most vulnerable children and families who have already sacrificed so much. Everyone in America needs to be a part of this solution, but the House Republican approach would shred the safety net that has offered a hand up to millions of families across America, including my own when we needed it, and we reject that approach.

    The budget we are considering this week also makes the investments we need to keep our military strong, to protect our communities and environment, and uphold the sacred commitment we have made to our veterans. I believe our budget reflects the values and priorities of the vast majority of families across our country. It is a responsible and credible approach, and it offers a clear path to a balanced and bipartisan deal.

    House Republicans are debating a very different approach this week. The proposal that passed through their Budget Committee would be devastating for our economic recovery and threaten millions of jobs. It would make extreme cuts to the investments in infrastructure and education and innovation that we need right now to lay down a strong foundation for broad-based economic growth. It would dismantle Medicare and would cut off programs that support the middle class and the most vulnerable families. It would do all that while refusing to ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to even contribute their fair share.

    The American people are going to have an opportunity to examine these budgets side by side over the coming weeks. They are going to be able to decide which approach is best for our economy, best for jobs, and best for the middle class. They are also going to have a chance to weigh in.

    After the Senate passes our budget and the House passes theirs, I am hopeful we can work together, listen to the American people, and come to the balanced and bipartisan deal this country desperately needs.

    I yield the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Blumenthal). The Senator from Alabama.

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