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Senate turns back cut, cap, balance bill

WASHINGTON (BP)–The U.S. Senate rejected July 22 a bill to reduce federal spending and to require a constitutional amendment to balance the budget before raising the debt ceiling.

Voting along party lines, the Democrat-controlled Senate voted 51-46 to table the Cut, Cap and Balance Act only three days after the House of Representatives had approved the same legislation.

The rejection of the proposal was not a surprise. The Republican-led House approved the bill, 234-190, in a nearly party line vote. Senate Democrats had not expressed support for the bill, and President Obama had made his opposition clear.

The Senate vote came as the Aug. 2 deadline for increasing the debt ceiling nears and as negotiations reportedly are continuing between Obama and House GOP leadership. The ceiling, which stands at $14.3 trillion, is the legal limit on the amount of debt the federal government can borrow.

The Cut, Cap and Balance Act would have:

— Cut federal spending for the 2012 fiscal year by $111 billion.

— Capped spending on a declining scale from 22.5 percent of the gross domestic product next year to 19.9 percent in 2021.

— Required congressional approval of a balanced budget amendment before the debt ceiling increases.

On the eve of the Senate vote, the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) urged Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and his colleagues to support the bill.

Describing the proposal as “a serious means to rein in Washington’s spending problem,” ERLC President Richard Land told McConnell in a letter, “as the American people have witnessed, the government has failed time and again to make good on promises of spending restraint. A Balanced Budget Amendment would put in place a much-needed check on government spending.”

In the July 19 House roll call, five Democrats joined 229 Republicans in the majority, while nine GOP members and 181 Democrats voted in opposition.
Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press. See how your senator voted at http://1.usa.gov/oIXJgk

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