Two alternative spending plans offered by both political parties were defeated Thursday in the Senate.
That leaves today’s deadline for the dreaded sequester at hand, and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey said the effects on the country and specifically his home state will be devastating.
The Republican plan, co-authored by Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley, failed by a 62-38 vote. A second bill — authored by the Democratic majority - failed 51-49.
The two plans were attempts to avoid or replace the $85 billion in cuts that both sides say will threaten economic growth, military readiness and jobs.
The House did not have any sequestration legislation on its Thursday schedule.
Casey, D-Scranton, issued a statement after the votes, clearly showing his disappointment.
“Today, rather than close loopholes for the wealthiest few and make smart cuts to eliminate government waste, some in Congress decided to protect the powerful and cast blame,” Casey said. “According to a recent study, Pennsylvania stands to lose nearly 80,000 jobs due to sequestration …. The American people deserve a balanced and reasonable approach that will protect middle class families and create jobs.”
Toomey said the bill he developed with Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe offered “a much more sensible way” to achieve the saving he said is needed.
“I will say unequivocally, we need to trim spending,” Toomey said. “We cannot continue spending money at the rate that we have been spending money. We cannot continue trillion dollar deficits. We have a $16 trillion debt. The massive deficits and the accumulated debt are costing us jobs and holding back the economy.”
Toomey, in a speech on the Senate floor, said over the last 12 years the federal government has doubled in size — spending 100 percent more now than a dozen years ago.
“And after this huge run up in the size of federal spending, this sequester or its equivalent, would reduce spending by 2.3 percent,” he said. “After growing by 100 percent, we can’t find 2.3 percent?”
Toomey noted that even with the sequester, total spending of the government in 2013 will be greater than spending was in 2012.
“This is how much austerity that we’re talking about,” Toomey said. “Let’s look for the programs that are working least well or not at all, look for areas where there is waste and inefficiencies, look for redundancies and that is where we are going to trim a little. That’s what any competent manager in any business would do, that’s what families have to do, that’s what state and local governments have to do, that’s what we need to do here. And that’s what this bill would enable the president to do – to find the areas where we can make the cuts without causing great disruption.”