Sen. Lee: Budget Deal is ‘Last Gasping Breath of a Disgraced Bipartisan Beltway Establishment’

By Barbara Hollingsworth | October 30, 2015 | 10:47am EDT
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). (AP photo)

( –  Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) excoriated the budget deal passed by the Republican-controlled Senate on a 64 to 35 vote early Friday morning, calling it “the last gasping breath of a disgraced bipartisan Beltway establishment on the verge of collapse.”  

The Republican-controlled House passed the bill 266 to 127 on Wednesday.

“The bill is the product of an unfair, dysfunctional, and fundamentally undemocratic process – a process that is virtually indistinguishable from what we promised the American people a G.O.P.-controlled Congress would bring to an end,” Lee told his Senate colleagues.

We made that promise because negotiating legislation behind closed doors, without input from the majority of members, and then rushing it through to final passage, without debate or opportunity for amendments, violates of our party’s core principles.”

Characterizing the budget deal asa take-it-or-leave-it choice, forced upon us with our backs up against a cliff,” Lee pointed out that “it increases government spending beyond its already unsustainable levels… while failing to make reforms that would put us on a path toward fiscal sustainability.”

The two-year budget deal, which was brokered with the White House behind closed doors by former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), raises federal spending by $80 billion, lifts the sequester on defense spending, and suspends existing limits on the $18 trillion national debt until March 2017.

It also diverts $150 billion from the Social Security Trust Fund to prevent the system’s Disability Insurance program (SSDI) from running out of money next year.

“The sales pitch we hear most often alleges that this budget deal will save the Social Security Disability Trust Fund from insolvency. But we’re never told exactly how this bill would do this,” Lee said. “That’s because, as always, the devil is in the details.”

He criticized efforts to fix the looming shortfall in SSDI by diverting money from the system’s main trust fund: At best, they are well-intentioned but ineffectual tweaks to a program that desperately needs fundamental, structural overhaul. At worst, they’re accounting gimmicks unbecoming of the United States Congress."

Lee also chastised Republican leaders for not allowing members of Congress to debate alternative proposals that have been introduced by him and other conservatives.

“We should be the party of ideas. But we won’t be, so long as we continue to tolerate a legislative process that stifles our most innovative proposals from getting a fair hearing.

“We should be the party of reform. But we won’t be, so long as individual senators are blocked from offering amendments to legislation.

“We should be the party of fiscal sanity and responsible governance. But we won’t be, so long as we continue to govern by crisis and cliff, delaying the inevitable, while working only three days a week.

“We should be the party that looks out for the most vulnerable among us. But we won’t be, so long as we lack the courage to enact the structural reforms that our retirement and disability insurance programs need to survive for generations to come,” Lee said.

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