Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Senate Guard: defending against fiscal attacks

"The Senate was up to its old tricks Monday evening. It prepared to pass, without debate and under a procedure requiring unanimous consent, a federal infusion of $9 billion into state Medicaid programs under the pretext of Katrina relief. The bill, drafted in secret under bipartisan auspices, was stopped cold when Republican Sen. John Ensign voiced his objection.

"The bill's Democratic sponsors railed in outrage against Ensign, a 47-year- old first-termer from Las Vegas, Nev., who usually keeps a low profile. But he was not acting alone. Ensign belongs to, and, indeed, originated, a small group of Republicans who intend to stand guard on the Senate floor against such raids on the Treasury as Monday night's failure. The group includes Sen. John McCain, who long has tried to wean Republicans from ever greater federal spending but attracted little support from GOP colleagues until recently." ...

"Another member of the Republican economy bloc, Sen. John Sununu of New Hampshire," analyzed "the bill’s excessive spending. Also on the floor were two other bloc members: freshman Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and McCain. Although previously out of step with his party on tax cuts, McCain is aligned against tax increases as 'a cop-out' to avoid budget trimming.

"Among others in the bloc are the two South Carolina senators, Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint. Graham wants this group to join the House’s conservative Republican Study Committee in a “full frontal assault” on runaway spending. The culture of Washington is against them, but stopping one $9 billion outlay is a start."

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