sequester-2

Senate Sends Budget Deal to Obama's Desk (Video)

Reid and Pelosi held an impromptu news conference after the House budget vote Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 5:22 a.m., Oct. 30 | The Senate sent to President Barack Obama a massive fiscal package early Friday morning that averts a U.S. debt default and raises spending caps.  

The chamber worked into the wee hours of the morning as senators cleared a key procedural hurdle, 63-35, and then passed the sweeping budget deal in a 64-35 vote that also suspends the debt limit into 2017. Before the final vote, GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky spoke for about an hour.  

GOP Senators Concerned by 'Gimmicks' in Budget Deal

Scott says he will vote against the deal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Republican leaders have more work to do to sell their members on a two-year budget deal unveiled late Monday night.  

GOP senators highlighted parts of the package meant to offset increased defense and domestic spending as their chief concerns. Their comments were followed by a blistering critique of the deal from the conservative groups Heritage Action for America and the Club for Growth. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., told CQ Roll Call following a Monday evening caucus meeting he has some “concerns” about the deal explained to GOP senators.  

Emerging Budget Deal Keeps Senate Democrats Guessing

Reid gestures at a news conference with Senate Democratic leadership team. (Al Drago, CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senior Senate Democrats are optimistic that a sweeping fiscal pact soon could be finalized, but their concerns about the emerging plan show it’s not a done deal just yet.  

Congressional leaders are preparing to unveil a fiscal package that would raise the debt ceiling until March 2017, while also raising defense and domestic spending caps known colloquially as sequestration. The package also would address Medicare Part B by shielding millions of seniors from significant increases to their health insurance premiums and deductibles.  

Defense Bill Far From a Sure Thing in the Senate

McCain and Reed are at odds over the NDAA. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With opposition on the left gaining momentum, the Senate will consider this week the conference report for the annual defense authorization measure.  

Democrats haven’t said they’d filibuster, but the White House last week issued a veto threat , only 37 Democrats supported the measure in the House, and the Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Jack Reed, D-R.I., refused to sign off on the conference report. The issue is the use of emergency war funding — Overseas Contingency Operations — to circumvent Budget Control Act-mandated spending caps, which Democrats write off as a “budget gimmick.”  

10 Things We Learned From the Vote-a-Rama

Toomey got attention for changing his vote during last week's vote-a-rama. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the vote-a-rama in the rearview mirror, it’s worth taking stock of what the 15-plus hours of nonbinding votes on dozens of amendments said about the 2016 presidential election, how vulnerable senators voted and what issues might now come to the fore. 1. Paid sick leave has turned into a potentially potent wedge issue for Democrats. Millions of workers lack any paid sick leave, and the amendment by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., that targeted the issue had vulnerable Republicans scrambling on the Senate floor to vote yes. Two of the most vulnerable Republicans, Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, actually switched their votes after the fact , providing the 60th and 61st votes, respectively.  

Expect Democrats to keep hammering on the issue now that they have crossed the filibuster-proof threshold and offer the amendment again later this Congress, instead of nonbinding, baloney sandwich "deficit neutral reserve funds." Either Democrats will get a win, or their presidential nominee will have an issue to take to the voters. Presidential candidate Ted Cruz of Texas and the three other potential Republican White House contenders in the Senate — Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida — voted no.  

Paul Ryan Updates Senate GOP on Budget Talks

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., paid a visit to Senate Republicans Wednesday afternoon to update them on the status of the budget conference, apparently with nothing earth-shattering to report.

"Just an update on where things were. It was pretty, pretty bland," Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said. "No news."

'Saving Speaker Boehner' Talking Point Boxes in Senate GOP

Senate Republicans are trying to coalesce around a series of talking points as their leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, negotiates with Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in the days before a potential government default.

But perhaps the most confounding of all lines GOP senators pushed on the morning political talk shows Sunday is that they both wanted to end the shutdown and wouldn't vote for any plan that can't garner a majority of House Republican votes — which, at this point, seems more like the unicorn of budget frameworks than it does a likely political possibility.

GOP Kills THUD Bill, Despite Push by Collins

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., succeeded in mustering the votes to kill a spending bill Thursday, drawing sharp rebukes from Democrats.

Democratic leaders praised the ill-fated efforts of Transportation-HUD ranking member Susan Collins of Maine to oppose the GOP leadership-led filibuster effort.

Graham Says Senators 'Screwed Ourselves' on Sequester

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

"We screwed ourselves here."

That was Sen. Lindsey Graham's take on the budget law that led to the sequester Thursday morning at the Appropriations Committee markup of the fiscal 2014 Defense spending bill. The South Carolina Republican said he voted against the 2011 Budget Control Act fearing a worst-case scenario in which the bipartisan supercommittee didn't produce an outcome, leading to the sequester.

McCain Pushes for Dollar Coins to Relieve Military Sequester

The search continues to find more spare change in the government's couch cushions.

Sen. John McCain on Monday urged a switch to dollar coins to help mitigate the effects of the defense sequester.