Friday, April 15, 2011

Who voted 'no'?

Yesterday, the US House of Representatives and the US Senate voted on the 2011 budget deal that was cut between House Republicans and President Obama a week ago.

The minute-by-minute blogging updates on the Huffington Post showed that Rep. Nancy Pelosi and others who had been cut out of the negotiations-- like all Congressional women-- were not happy with the deal.

Despite the drama from the left and the right, the bill passed 260 to 167 in the House and 81 to 19 in the Senate. As The Nation pointed out, who voted "no" is very telling. From The Nation...

Of the 167 "no" votes, 108 came from Democrats and 59 from Republicans.

The Democrats who voted "no" included the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Raul Grijalva of Arizona and Keith Ellison of Minnesota, as well as Congressional Black Caucus chair Barbara Lee of California and Congressional Hispanic Caucus chair Nydia M. Velázquez of New York. Ranking Democrats such as George Miller of California, Barney Frank of Massachusetts and John Conyers of Michigan voted "no." And so did House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California.

“It was pretty evident the House Democrats were not a part of that agreement,” Pelosi explained before the vote. “I feel no ownership of that or any responsibility to it — except that we don't want to shut down the government.”

Pelosi and the House Democrats deserve credit for their show of independence, and support for the basic principles of the party of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. They know that pro-Wall Street "austerity" budgets serve special interests and reinforce Republican talking points, not working Americans and progresive values.

The same cannot be said for Senate Democrats, all but two of whom backed the Obama-GOP deal.

The measure passed the Senate 81-19. Sixteen of the "no" votes came from conservative Republicans who thought the deal did not cut enough. Two senior Democrats, Vermont's Patrick Leahy and Michigan's Carl Levin, opposed the deal. So, too, did Vermont Independent Sanders.

In addition to arguing that the budget agreement "moves America in exactly the wrong direction, Sanders said, "Unfortunately, this is just the beginning. Republicans in Congress have tasted blood. Now they are dead set on making even deeper cuts. They have proposed a radical budget for 2012 that would end Medicare and Medicaid as we know them while providing $1 trillion more in tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and large corporations."

Sanders captured the sentiment of progressives in Congress and across the country when he said, "There is no question that we must reduce soaring deficits, but it must be done in a way that is fair, which protects the most vulnerable people in our country, and which requires shared sacrifice.”

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