Democratic Party-controlled U.S. Senate has blocked a plan passed by the
Republican-controlled House of Representatives to cut the country's
budget and raise its debt ceiling. The vote Friday puts the emphasis on
talks between the White House and top lawmakers to find a deal to raise
the debt ceiling before a deadline on August 2.
A simple majority was needed to table, or kill, further consideration of
the bill. The vote was 51 to 46.
Just one hour of comments were allowed before the vote took place.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who had called the House bill one of
the worst he has ever seen, said it was now urgent to look for a
"There is simply no more time to waste debating and voting on measures
that have no hopes of becoming law. We have no more time to waste
playing partisan games," said Reid. "As the saying goes, indecision
becomes decision with time. Our time is running out before this
gridlock, this refusal by the other side to move even an inch toward
compromise becomes a decision to default on our debt."
In the short time they had to speak, Republicans on the Senate floor all
backed the "Cut, Cap and Balance Act." It would have raised the debt
limit by $2.4 trillion on the condition that Congress send a
constitutional balanced budget amendment to the states for ratification
and approve trillions in long-term spending cuts.
The Senate minority leader, Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell, accused
Democrats of being in a state of denial.
"Too many Democrats refuse to admit that Washington has a spending
problem. That is why Republicans have insisted that we focus on spending
in this debate," McConnell said. "The reason we have got a $14 trillion
debt is because no matter how much money Washington has it always spends
The comments highlighted the sharp divisions between the two parties, as
negotiations to find a deal stumble along.
said the law proposed by the House would have turned a recession into a
depression. They said it would cut, cap and kill social spending
programs and defend tax havens. They accused former Republican President
George W. Bush of creating the deficit problem by paying for the Iraq
war with tax cuts. They also warned against any deal that would only
favor wealthy Americans.
Republicans accused Democratic senators of lacking leadership since they
said they have not proposed their own plan. They took offense that the
act had been blocked with a dismissal vote, rather than a full debate
and work on amendments. They accused Democratic President Barack Obama
of pretending to be a fiscal moderate in recent days, but coming short
of that ideal in his actions.
Senior aides to lawmakers said both sides are now searching for what
they called a magic formula to avoid a debt default, with the White
House at the center of efforts to find a compromise.