Alexander Urges Bipartisanship to Tackle Growing Federal Debt

Recommends Budget Committee Support of Bipartisan Sessions-McCaskill Amendment to Limit Spending

Posted on April 22, 2010

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today during a hearing of the Senate Budget Committee, of which he is a member, urged the panel to work together in a bipartisan way to tackle the country’s mounting debt. 

While discussing a budget amendment offered by Senators Sessions (R-Ala.)—based upon a bipartisan Sessions-McCaskill amendment offered earlier on the Senate floor—to limit discretionary spending increases to less than 2 percent a year for the next three years, Alexander asked the committee members, “isn’t the reason for this roundtable discussion [about ways to control spending that] when you have a promising approach like this to give it a chance to work?” 

Alexander continued, “We’re going to have to borrow to pay for Social Security payments, Medicare, and the general operation of the government. What Senators Sessions and McCaskill have done is develop a fairly successful bipartisan approach to deal with about 40 percent of the budget  – the discretionary part. They’re suggesting that it go up less than 2 percent a year, for three years. If [Budget Committee Chairman Conrad] could join with Senators Sessions and McCaskill, of two different parties, in devising what the Chairman thinks is a sound way to approach this, we wouldn’t need a debt commission. Because if we could get discretionary spending going up at a rate of only 2 percent a year over the next several years, we would begin to really deal with that part of the budget and the debt commission and our other efforts could deal with entitlement spending. 

“It seems to me that the more responsible approach would be for the Democrats and the Republicans to say, ‘OK, Senator Sessions is offering a serious amendment. This isn’t a “message” amendment; this is an amendment that he’s worked hard with Senator McCaskill to develop bipartisan support for—this is a reasonable approach to the needs of this country, and the most urgent concern we have is the debt.’ So why don’t we take this effort and modulate it however the chairman and the senators from Alabama and Missouri can agree on and give the rest of us a chance to vote on something that would put us on track for dealing with discretionary spending, which is about 40 percent of the problem?”


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