Last January, Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) introduced an amendment which would have taken the first steps toward restoring fiscal responsibility in Washington. While the amendment failed to attain the necessary 60 votes for passage, it did gain strong bipartisan support, with 16 Democrats joining all but one Republican voting for the measure. Fortunately, all hope is not lost.
The amendment, which would cap discretionary spending increases at two percent per year, is expected to come up for a second vote tomorrow. The spending caps would mark a distinct departure from the recent past, when annual increases have reached as high as 12.2 percent. While restrictions on discretionary spending alone can not solve the nation’s fiscal troubles, adoption of this amendment would mark an important start.
Since the first vote failed on January 28th debt held by the public has increased by $88 billion and President Obama’s own budget projects this figure to more than double from $7.5 trillion in 2009 to a record $18.6 trillion by 2020. At some point this borrow and spend policy must come to an end. The next roll call vote for the bipartisan Sessions-McCaskill amendment will reveal which Senators are serious about budget restraint, and which are committed to the status-quo.