WHEELING - As the Senate continues debating a bipartisan budget deal that would break the cycle of keeping the government running with short-term continuing resolutions, Rep. David McKinley said the measure falls short of what's needed to curb America's ballooning national debt.
McKinley, R-Wheeling, was one of only 62 GOP members who voted against the budget deal, which cleared the House Thursday by a 332-94 margin. The measure could come up for a final vote in the Senate this week, as long as enough Republicans agree to end debate and break a potential filibuster.
"While I applaud the fact that bipartisan discussions on the budget took place for the first time in five years, unfortunately the final product falls short," McKinley said. "America's debt continues to grow, reaching $17.2 trillion. Just like American families, Washington must be serious about living within its means."
McKinley also cited the bill's elimination of federal funding for a research program at the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Morgantown that he said supports about 80 jobs in explaining why he opposed the budget measure.
The proposed budget would set discretionary spending at $1.012 trillion for the 2014 fiscal year. It increases spending by rolling back about $63 billion in across-the-board "sequester" cuts to federal programs, including the Department of Defense, over the next two years.
But proponents say that through other measures - increasing employee contributions to retirement programs for new hires, capping reimbursement to government contractors for executive salaries, increasing surcharges on airline tickets to fund the Transportation Security Administration, an extension of cuts in reimbursement to Medicare providers and others - the deal will result in a net deficit reduction of $23 billion over the next 10 years.
That's just not good enough, according to McKinley.
"For the first time since the Korean War, spending has decreased for two consecutive years," McKinley said, pointing to a Congressional Budget Office report that states most of the savings would not kick in for about seven years. "Unfortunately, this deal reverses some of the progress we've made. It increases spending for the next two years but promises to save money in the future."
A vote in the Senate to end debate and force a final up-or-down vote on the budget bill could take place Tuesday. The continuing resolution passed in October - ending a 16-day partial shutdown of government operations - is set to expire Jan. 15.