House Republican leadership, under pressure from more conservative members of their caucus, last month reneged on the August debt deal and announced that they would cut more spending than was agreed to in the Budget Control Act that raised the debt ceiling. Senate Democrats were incensed, telling the GOP that its plan risked a government shutdown, and President Obama this week warned he wouldn’t sign any new appropriations bills until the House abandoned the lower spending levels.
In his first opportunity to weigh in on the battle, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) yesterday sided with Obama and the Senate Democrats. Led by McConnell, all but two Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to uphold the August debt deal, The Hill reports:
The committee met to divide up the $1.047 trillion allocated to discretionary spending under the debt deal — $19 billion more than allowed under the House-passed budget that Boehner supported. [...]
[McConnell] was joined by most of the Republicans on the committee and all Democrats in advancing the spending levels to be used to construct the 12 annual appropriations bills.
Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) voted against the allocations.
House Republicans have attempted to walk back other terms of the deal as well, refusing to include agreed-upon defense cuts in their budget. Instead, they’ve pushed even deeper cuts than were already required for food stamps, education assistance, and other programs, targeting those programs that help the poor and middle class for a majority of their spending reductions.
Even as he sided with Senate Democrats on current spending levels, McConnell attempted to salve House Republicans. According to The Hill, McConnell’s office noted that “has said the Budget Control Act numbers are just ceilings, not floors, and he would work to cut spending going forward.”