The United States Senate today passed with Vice President Cheney’s tie-breaking vote a cruel budget spending cuts that were concocted in the dead of night by the US House Republicans, who locked the Democrats out. Members of the House approved the measure on a nearly party-line vote and immediately left town. The House is scheduled not to be back in session until the end of January. But because the Senate measure included some minor changes, the bill must be passed again by the House before it can go to the President for his signature. The House will either have to return to vote or the bill will not be passed until early 2006.
The budget measure includes $40 billion cuts in spending over the next five years, hitting the poor, women, and children the hardest. The student loan program, Medicare, Medicaid, housing access, childcare for welfare-to-work, child support enforcement, and foster care are among the programs slashed. But the budget reconciliation package also includes tax cuts of $70 billion to the richest Americans – those earning $1 million or more per year. Instead of a deficit-reducing measure, the budget itself will increase the deficit by some $780 billion – one of our largest increases in the nation’s history. The budget projects the national debt over the next five years increasing from $7.9 trillion to $11.3 trillion, increasing by some $600 billion per year. President Bush’s policies have led to more borrowing from foreign sources than all 42 previous presidents combined.
All Senate Democrats voted against the budget, as well as five Republicans (Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, Mike DeWine of Ohio, and Gordon Smith of Oregon) and one Independent (Jim Jeffords of Vermont).
“Seventy-nine percent of the women in the Senate voted against this heartless, imprudent bill, underscoring the gender gap in its harsh impact on women and children,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority.