On Wednesday, the Senate took four largely symbolic votes on whether to begin debate on competing FY 2012 budget plans. The chamber rejected consideration of the House FY 2012 budget resolution by a 40-57 vote, with five Republicans joining all the Democrats and two Independents to defeat the procedural measure. Interestingly, consideration of President Obama’s FY 2012 budget request was then defeated by a 0-97 margin, which drew the ire of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who accused the Democrats of avoiding taking a definitive position on any FY 2012 budget. Senator Patrick Toomey’s (R-PA) plan that proposed to balance the budget within nine years through spending cuts and reductions garnered the most votes but was still defeated by 42-55 margin, while Senator Rand Paul’s (R-KY) proposal to balance the budget within five years by, among other things, drastically reducing non-war funding at the Pentagon was rejected by a 7-90 vote. Democrats and Republicans alike await the outcome of Vice President Joe Biden’s bipartisan deficit reduction talks as they contemplate how to move forward on FY 2012 spending.
Yesterday, the House passed its version of the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Amendments to speed up the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan were defeated—some by a very close margin. The measure has drawn veto threats from the White House over provisions on handling of alleged terrorist detainees, among others. The Senate is set to begin work on its version of the NDAA next month. Find other highlights in the attached Update.
Please enjoy the rest of Update, which includes upcoming hearings, hearing summaries (including one on the future of Japan as it recovers from the devastating March earthquake and tsunami), and articles of interest.