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Senate Republicans plead for a budget as frustrations boil over

Senate Republicans proposed five budgets Wednesday, but the Democratic-controlled Senate defeated them all. Republicans say Democrats are punting on tough choices, Democrats say they already have a budget.  

By Staff writer / May 16, 2012

Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, seen here last year, was one of three Republican senators to propose a budget Wednesday.

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP/File

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Washington

Senate Republicans on Wednesday offered five different budget proposals, all of which were defeated by the Democratic-controlled Senate.

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The burst of Republican activity amounted to a primal scream of frustration over the fact that the Senate has not passed a budget in three years. Many political analysts agree with Republicans, who charge that Democrats have steadfastly refused to offer a budget to protect senators facing tough reelection contests from unpopular votes.

For their part, Democrats say last summer's Budget Control Act – the legislation stemming from the debt-ceiling deal, which included caps on discretionary spending for the next decade – effectively functions as a budget.

None of the five proposals introduced Wednesday crossed the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome a filibuster. Three came from GOP senators, one was the House budget championed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin, and the final offering was President Obama's own budget, which Democrats said Republicans changed and introduced only as a gimmick – it was unanimously defeated. 

In conversations with reporters and on the Senate floor, Republicans repeatedly denounced Senate Democrats for failing offer their own budget proposal. 

“Does the majority party not feel an obligation to tell the American people where they want to lead the country?” said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) of Alabama on the Senate floor. “Do they, in a time of financial crisis, feel they don’t have to lay out a plan?”

The Senate proposals came from Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and broadly aimed to bring the federal budget into balance within the next decade. 

To do so, they envision broad cuts to government spending, such as the elimination of four government departments under Senator Paul’s budget, overhauls of Medicare and Social Security under Senator Lee’s proposal, and slashing discretionary spending back to 2006 levels under Senator Toomey’s plan

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