The Mix

Spineless in the Senate …

House Dems looking for another budget vote.
The Hill:
House Democratic leadership is adamant that another vote be held to clear the budget-reconciliation bill that is in limbo because of clerical errors.
Although President Bush signed the bill on Wednesday, a discrepancy between the House-passed and Senate-passed version appears to indicate that the $39 billion deficit-reduction measure has not been enacted into law.
"Something this serious ought to be debated and voted on in the House," said a Democratic leadership aide.
The Senate Democratic leadership has elected not to resist finalizing action on the bill. Asked whether Senate Democrats were weighing their options to stall the measure, a spokesman for Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) maintained that the fate of the bill lies in the hands of the House.
No Democrats in either chamber voted for the budget reconciliation conference agreement. The chief points of contention were spending reductions in healthcare, education and other programs.
Here's the scoop. After fighting hard to slash spending for the neediest Americans, the Repubs made some drafting errors in the final version of the budget reconciliation bill. Normally in such circumstances, they fix the typos or whatever by unanimous consent. But the House Dems want to force vulnerable Republicans to vote for this budget again; they want to hang it on some necks come November.

Consider this:
With crucial midterm elections less than nine months away, Republicans are expressing deep skepticism about President Bush's plans to cut social programs while promoting the extension of his tax cuts, saying the juxtaposition of the two GOP priorities could spur an election-year backlash.
… Moderates are expressing concern about slashing popular programs that benefit the poor at the same time they're being asked to cut taxes on the rich, and conservatives are saying the proposal does not go far enough in controlling the record budget deficit.
Sarah Chamberlain Resnick, executive director of the centrist Republican Main Street Partnership, said that if the president's budget proposals become law, dozens of Republicans who represent closely divided districts could be more vulnerable in this year's elections.
''He's not running for reelection -- we are," she said. ''We live in swing districts, where the president is not polling well."
The House leadership has it right, and highlights the need to get some fighters into the Senate. Why they would take a pass on this is beyond me. Commity? Please. Try lack of back-bone.
Joshua Holland is a staff writer at Alternet and a regular contributor to The Gadflyer.
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