U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) on Friday introduced amendment #538 to the Senate FY2014 budget resolution to better protect state and local governments, businesses, and families from the financial burdens associated with Washington mandates. The amendment would increase the vote threshold for waiving a point of order against unfunded mandates with cost estimates that exceed $75 million. Instead of 51 votes, 60 would be needed.
The budget resolution is the first from Senate Democrats since 2009, although federal law requires Congress to pass a budget by April 15 each year. Hundreds of amendments were proposed to the Senate budget, leading to a rare, so-called "vote-a-rama," in which the Senate conducts a series of back-to-back votes. Sen. Wicker's amendment regarding unfunded mandates is one of nine he has proposed.
"Senate Democrats have failed to put forward real and lasting reforms in their tax-and-spend plan," said Wicker, who is a member of the Senate Budget Committee. "Amendments provide a valuable opportunity to support important measures for financial responsibility. My amendments would help secure sensible budget savings and government reforms, including making unfunded mandates more difficult for Washington to use. Americans deserve a budget resolution that reins in spending, creates jobs, and grows the economy, not the size of the federal government."
Sen. Wicker also offered the following measures for consideration:
An amendment to increase funding for the Transitional Housing Assistance Grants Program, which extends housing and support services to domestic violence survivors. The funds would be offset by reductions in a housing counseling program of questionable merit.
An amendment to prevent interest on the national debt from exceeding spending on national defense. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), America will spend more paying off interest on the debt than on our national defense by 2021.
An amendment to preserve funding for the National Guard's Counterdrug School Program and State Counterdrug Support Program.
An amendment to help ensure federal green building policies are transparent and fair and do not arbitrarily discriminate against U.S. products.
An amendment to defund the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and direct some savings to malaria relief and deficit reduction.
An amendment to harness America's energy potential by expediting permitting and leasing processes on federal lands.
An amendment to eliminate the Office of Financial Research -- an agency created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law that lacks congressional oversight and accountability.
An amendment to reform federal employee retirement programs.
On Wednesday, Sen. Wicker outlined his concerns with Senate Democrats' budget on the Senate floor. The budget proposal would raise taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, grow the size of the government by nearly 5 percent per year, and add $7.3 trillion to the federal debt.
In part, Sen. Wicker said: "We're in this process of trying to save our country from a mountain of debt in order to create jobs for the American people, in order to grow the economy rather than growing the size of the federal government."