Alexander, Corker split on procedural vote to let budget deal advance

The U.S. Senate voted 67-33 in a procedural vote that clears the way for a final vote on a federal budget deal that has already passed the House.

Tennessee Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker split on the cloture vote — Alexander voting against cloture, or to let the bill advance, while Corker voted no. Both say they will vote no on the final vote.

From a CNN report:
The politics of the issue were clear in Tuesday’s vote breakdown. Only one Republican Senator facing a primary challenge in their re-election campaigns voted with Democrats to overcome the GOP filibuster — Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

Corker and Alexander both issued press releases on the matter and state Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, promptly issued a statement criticizing Alexander’s vote.

All three press releases are below.

News release from Sen. Lamar Alexander (issued prior to the vote):
WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement on Senate consideration of the budget agreement passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 332-94:
“I will vote against the budget agreement because it avoids the federal government’s most urgent need: reducing the growth of runaway entitlement spending. Instead, it spends savings that should be used to strengthen Medicare, pensions, and the air transportation system.  
“It would have been better to pay for this agreement with a small part of the $1 trillion in entitlement savings that Sen. Corker and I have identified in our ‘Fiscal Sustainability Act,’ or with entitlement savings suggested in the president’s budget.  
“Although I can’t support it, I appreciate the efforts of Rep. Ryan and Sen. Murray to bring certainty to the budget process, which is why I voted earlier today to allow a Senate vote on their agreement, which had passed the House with two-to-one Republican support.” 
In February, Senators Alexander and Corker introduced the “Fiscal Sustainability Act,” S. 11, to reduce the growth of entitlement spending (Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security) by nearly $1 trillion in the next decade in order to improve the programs’ solvency. The bill incorporates many of the recommendations made by President Obama’s Debt Commission (Simpson-Bowles) as well as by former Republican Senator Pete Domenici and Alice Rivlin, budget director for former President Clinton.

News release from Joe Carr campaign:
Today, Senator Alexander cast a key vote in support of the Ryan-Murray budget deal. The deal increases the deficit $62 billion for fiscal year 2014 and 2015.

“Senator Alexander’s vote today demonstrates just how out of touch he has become. This is a horrible deal that fails to address our spending problem. Today’s vote is yet another example where Senator Alexander’s inane claim to be a conservative fails to pass the smell test,” says Joe Carr.

News release from Sen. Bob Corker (issued before the vote):
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., announced today that he will vote against the budget deal before the Senate because it busts budget caps without making meaningful changes to mandatory programs.

Earlier today Corker voted against cloture, which is a vote to end debate on the budget deal. Majority Leader Harry Reid filled the amendment tree on this bill on Sunday, allowing no amendments and no debate. Since there was no debate and there were no amendments, Corker did not feel it was appropriate to support cloture.

“Because of the Budget Control Act, for three years in a row, Congress has spent less on discretionary programs than the year before. While I appreciate the dilemma Paul Ryan was in, it’s disappointing the misguided strategy of the House this fall weakened our hand on fiscal issues and that House appropriators indicated they were unwilling to live within the budget discipline laid out in the sequester.

So with the afterglow of the ‘bipartisan’ deal fading, I think everyone can see this budget deal busts the budget caps by $45,000,000,000 in the first year alone without making meaningful changes to mandatory programs, violating the only real progress we have made in getting our fiscal house in order and demonstrating that Congress continues to lack the discipline to control spending even in this small way. Spending now and paying later is the cause of our deficit problems, not the solution,” said Corker.