Senators Point Fingers on $933-Billion Budget Impasse

By Josiah Ryan | July 7, 2008 | 8:32 PM EDT

On the Spot ( - Members of Congress, battling over a federal budget of almost $3 trillion, have come to an impasse.

President Bush's proposed $2.9-trillion budget for fiscal 2008 is a little more than 20 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the United States. The figure includes spending on the war and "mandatory" entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

Within that record $2.9-trillion budget, President Bush has proposed capping non-military discretionary spending at $933 billion. The Democratic congressional majority, however, wants to add another $22 billion in discretionary spending.

Cybercast News Service went to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to ask members of Congress if the president's $933 billion in non-military discretionary spending is enough -- or what needs to be done to reach a compromise and finally enact a budget for fiscal year that is already two months old.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) told Cybercast News Service that he would support an increase for "emergency spending" but no more. He added that the federal budget, at 20 percent of GDP, is "dangerously high." (See related story: Sen. Cornyn: Federal Spending 'Dangerously High')

"I am not willing to support anything that exceeds his budget except for the possibility of emergency funding for enhanced border security. That is an item I feel very strongly about, but overall I feel like we should try to hold the line on excess spending," said Cornyn.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told Cybercast News Service that the president's $933-billion limit on discretionary spending was acceptable, and that he and other Republicans want to try "to restrain and control domestic spending."

"Right now I would like to stay with the $933 [billion]," said Thune. "I mean, I'll take a look if they put something forward that is a good faith effort. ...I think right now the Republican position is we are trying to restrain and control domestic spending. ...We think the $933 [billion] number is where it ought to be, and if they come forward with some alternative proposal I am sure we will have a look at it. But right now I don't think there is any particular necessity on our part to give ground on that." Listen to Audio

Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), who ran for president in 2004, said he would have to talk to the Democratic leadership about a possible compromise. He contended that Republicans have been stalling legislation for the last 30 days in Congress.

Concerning a budget compromise, "I don't have an answer for that until I talk to the leadership and a get a sense of where we are in respect to the House," said Kerry. "I don't want to shoot from the hip and give you a figure that is unrealistic. I need to see where we're at. ... I believe the Republicans are objecting to most ready legislation that could be going forward. You saw this morning a whole host of objections to proceeding forward. ... If we pass something unanimously in the Senate and one person is objecting, why should there be a compromise? It depends what the objection is and to what. You know obviously we are prepared to do some compromise on the money and that's been offered." Listen to Audio

Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said a budget compromise would depend on what members of Congress propose. "It depends on what it's for and whether it not it has funds for the troops to be able to do their job," said Lott. "I am not one who says that the president has to get every nickel, but clearly it has to be less than where we are right now. ...If it's a true emergency or involves the troops there's things you could work out. ...We have worked these things out before." Listen to Audio

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