Under the Dome

U.S. Senate passes budget blueprint with support from Burr and Tillis

After the U.S. Senate early Friday passed a Republican budget blueprint, North Carolina Republican Sens. Thom Tillis and Richard Burr praised it for cutting federal spending.

Tillis, in a statement, said the vote for the Republican-backed spending plan “shows that the Senate is back to work and fighting for the priorities of hardworking taxpayers.”

“Passage of a budget that balances in 10 years is a critical step to getting our country in the right direction without raising taxes on American families,” Burr said, also in a statement.

The measure also would eliminate funding for the Affordable Care Act, remake Medicare and reduce Medicaid, food stamps and other social programs. It’s only an outline of goals, however; Congress still would have to pass bills to cut or revise programs to make the spending cuts real.

No Democrats voted for it. The vote was 52-46 . Only two Republicans, 2016 presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, voted no.

Before the final vote, the Senate held what was dubbed a “vote-a-rama” on more than 50 non-binding amendments that senators were allowed to propose. The votes provided a way to try to force senators seeking re-election into votes that might be used against them in their campaigns.

Burr, who is up for re-election in 2016, was targeted already in a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee press release Friday that previewed those attacks. It noted that, among other things, he voted against an amendment that would prevent cuts in Social Security or privatizing the program, and against a plan to provide two years of community college free by raising taxes on the very wealthy.

The House of Representatives passed its version of the Republican budget outline on Wednesday.

North Carolina’s three Democratic members voted against it. All of its Republican members voted for it except for Rep. Walter Jones of Farmville, who often has voted against his party’s budget measures in the past.

Jones explained in a press release that the budget would raise federal spending for the current fiscal year by $23 billion over the previous year. Much of the increase would go to spending for war in Afghanistan and foreign aid, and it would add to the nation’s $18 trillion debt, he said.

“The people of Eastern North Carolina sent me to Washington to cut spending, not increase it,” Jones said. Of the spending increase, he said: “It’s irresponsible, it’s immoral, and it’s wrong for America.”

Jones also disagreed that the budget would really balance in 10 years. He said it relied on “a host of smoke and mirrors accounting gimmicks and rosy economic forecasting” to make it appear to do so.