As the death toll rises from Nepal’s horrific earthquake over the weekend, leave it to Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) to say that the GOP budget that was unveiled today is “no more balanced than the earthquakes” that have struck the Asian nation. Yet, one can see why Sen. Reid is so huffy. If passed, this would be the first 10-year balanced budget since 2001. It also has $5 trillion in spending cuts. But the budget also kills Obamacare through reconciliation, which prevents a Democratic filibuster (via the Hill):
The deal reconciles the rival budget blueprints passed by the House and Senate, and will not require a signature from President Obama. If adopted, it will be the first Republican budget agreement in a decade.
The House is expected to vote Friday on the deal, a leadership aide said.
Rep. Tom Price (Ga.) and Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyo.), the chairmen of the House and Senate budget committees, hailed the agreement as a step toward curbing the government’s “out of control spending.”
The deal does not include a proposal from the House budget that would have called for giving seniors the option under Medicare of enrolling in private insurance. The idea has been championed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
Senate Republicans balked at including that plan, fearing it could become a political liability in a difficult election cycle where they are defending 24 seats.
Republicans have remained united behind the push to repeal ObamaCare through reconciliation, something that conservatives began to demand after the GOP won control of Congress last year.
While the reconciliation process is difficult, legislation produced under the process cannot be filibustered in the Senate, effectively removing the power of Democrats to block it.
The reconciliation language in the budget gives deficit-cutting instructions to the congressional panels with jurisdiction over the healthcare law. They are the Senate Finance Committee and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, as well as the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the House Education and the Workforce Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.
The budget tasks the authorizing committees with producing bills that slash the deficit by billions of dollars no later than July 24. After that, Republicans would have to conference the bills from the two chambers.
It also imposes a point-of-order against a reconciliation bill or resolution that would raise the debt limit over the next decade. That provision can only be waived if two-thirds of the Senate approves it.
Of course, Democrats are upset about this. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the budget will “ransack America’s future.” The article also mentioned that 1) Congress would probably have to raise the debt ceiling this fall and 2) the GOP is committed to $1.017 trillion discretionary budget cap–sequestration–set by a 2011 law. Yet, this reconciliation maneuver was mentioned in January when Republicans had their retreat in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), the Senate’s Budget Chairman, said at he time he hoped to have a completed budget by April 15. He noted that the Reid era was over. House Budget Chair, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), said at the time that reconciliation is a powerful tool, but not a silver bullet. Both men said they were open to other options regarding budget reconciliation.
The process has drawn the ire of Republicans before, specifically when Democrats used it to pass Obamacare in 2010; the GOP has contended their past uses of reconciliation have been done to address budgetary matters not overhaul health care.
If you’re a Democrat, I’m sure you’re unhappy about the cuts, the use of reconciliation, but it’s not like Nepal. Please. People are still being pulled from the rubble and the last thing we need is for an outgoing Senator, who’s become rather undisciplined, to compare a horrific natural disaster. According to CNN, the death toll sits at a little over 5,200–and rising–with 1.7 million children needing immediate care. The monsoon season is upon Nepal, which means the risk of landslides and mudslides have increased in a region that’s already hampered by logistical problems regarding the rescue effort.
I guess when it comes to attacks; nothing is sacred for Mr. Reid. Whether it’s smearing a Republican presidential nominee with baseless claims on the Senate floor–and not regretting it–to just plainly calling people losers, we probably shouldn’t be shocked that Reid would use the Nepal earthquake to score some quick points.
He’s leaving; why should he care.