WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today encouraged his Senate colleagues to commit to good faith negotiations to finalize the FY2011 appropriations process and to address the broader issues that must be tackled in order to reduce federal debt to sustainable levels.
Cochran today voted on two divergent appropriations measures crafted to fund federal operations and programs through the remaining six and a half months of FY2011. Cochran voted in favor of HR.1, the year-long continuing resolution (CR) approved by the House of Representatives that would cut roughly $57 billion from current discretionary spending levels. The Senator voted against an alternative Democratic-sponsored plan (S.Amdt.149) that would reduce spending this year by $4.5 billion.
Neither measure met the 60-vote threshold needed for adoption. The federal government is currently being funded through a short-term CR, which cuts $4 billion in FY2011 discretionary spending and extends through March 18.
Cochran issued the following statement regarding today's votes:
"In an era that demands greater fiscal austerity, Congress and the administration cannot be timid in facing up to the long-term problems posed by an unsustainable debt load. I voted in favor of HR.1 to send a message that I am willing to consider significant reductions in discretionary spending. While I can support the spirit in which the House made its cuts, I do not endorse each and every reduction in the House measure. In fact, I oppose some of the cuts to important programs and believe that alternative reductions must be considered.
"In my view, the alternative Democratic proposal presented to the Senate was insufficient. Over the past two years, federal spending has increased at a dramatic rate, as has the federal debt. Clearly, we are at a point where the status quo, or even a modest deviation from the status quo, is unacceptable.
"As we near the halfway mark of the 2011 fiscal year, it is my hope that these competing votes will be followed by good faith discussions to finally conclude last year's appropriations process while making substantial reductions in spending. I am committed to working with Chairman Inouye and my Senate colleagues to meet that goal so that we can avoid further talk of government shutdowns and so that we can devote our full attention to drafting a responsible budget resolution and adopting other measures that will be necessary to get our fiscal house in order."