The Pardu

The Pardu
Watchful eyes and ears feed the brain, thus nourishing the brain cells.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

US Senate Votes On First Budget In Four Years, But The XL Piepiline Included

The first Senate Budget Bill in four years! Democrats in the US Senate (except four Blue Dog DEMS) voted to protect for our elderly and voted to avoid cuts in disabled veterans benefits  They also voted for a resolution to mitigate cuts in Social Security Benefits.

Huffington Post......

Senate Passes Democratic Budget

U.S. Capitol early in the evening on February 7, 2012. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — An exhausted Senate gave pre-dawn approval Saturday to a Democratic $3.7 trillion budget for next year that embraces nearly $1 trillion in tax increases over the coming decade but shelters domestic programs targeted for cuts by House Republicans. 

While their victory was by a razor-thin 50-49 vote, it allowed Democrats to tout their priorities. Yet it doesn't resolve the deep differences the two parties have over deficits and the size of government. 

Joining all Republicans voting no were four Democrats who face re-election next year in potentially difficult races: Sens. Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., did not vote. 

White House spokesman Jay Carney praised the Senate plan, saying in a statement it "will create jobs and cut the deficit in a balanced way."
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While there is much to be touted in the Senate Bill, two bill critical amendments. 

We located the following releases on the web page:

Senate Shows Support for Older Americans ActMarch 23, 2013
WASHINGTON, March 23 – The Senate early this morning approved an amendment to the budget resolution backing the Older Americans Act, the landmark law that supports Meals on Wheels and other programs for seniors.
The amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was cosponsored by Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore).
Originally enacted in 1965, the Older Americans Act was the first initiative by the federal government to help seniors remain independent in their homes and communities. Older Americans Act programs provide basic necessities such as meals, caregiver support, job training and placement, legal services, and protection from abuse and neglect in nursing homes.
The programs are needed now more than ever with the older adult population of the United States rapidly expanding and 10,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 every day. One in five of those over 65 are living on an average income of $7,500 per year and the numbers of seniors going hungry is rising. “We must grow and strengthen the programs that serve low income older Americans. It is the moral thing to do for our aging population, but it also saves money for our country,” Sanders said.
Among the organizations supporting the measure were the National Council on Aging, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, Meals on Wheels Association of America, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs, National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders, National Alliance for Caregiving, National Organization for Women and the Medicare Rights Center.
Sanders is chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. 
Senate Opposes ‘Chained CPI’ Cuts to Social Security, Veterans’ Benefits

March 22, 2013WASHINGTON, March 22 – The Senate tonight voted to block cuts in benefits for Social Security and disabled veterans. 
The amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) put the Senate on record against changing how cost-of-living increases are calculated in a way that would result in significant cuts. 
“The time has come for the Senate to send a very loud and clear message to the American people: We will not balance the budget on the backs of disabled veterans who have lost their arms, their legs and their eyesight defending our country. We will not balance the budget on the backs of the men and women who have already sacrificed for us in Iraq and Afghanistan, nor on the widows who have lost their husbands in Iraq and Afghanistan defending our country,” Sanders said. 
The amendment opposed switching from the current method of measuring inflation to a so-called chained consumer price index. President Barack Obama favors a chained CPI as part of what the White House calls a “grand bargain” that Obama hopes to reach with congressional Republicans. 
The proposed change would affect more than 3.2 million disabled veterans receiving disability compensation benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans who started receiving VA disability benefits at age 30 would have their benefits reduced by $1,425 at age 45, $2,341 at age 55 and $3,231 at age 65.  Benefits for more than 350,000 surviving spouses and children who have lost a loved one in battle also would be cut. Dependency Indemnity Compensation benefits already average less than $17,000 a year. 
More than 55 million retirees, widows, orphans and disabled Americans receiving Social Security also would be affected by the switch to a chained CPI. That figure includes 9 million veterans with an average yearly benefit of about $15,500. A veteran with average earnings retiring at age 65 would get nearly a $600 benefit cut at age 75 and a $1,000 cut at age 85. By age 95, when Social Security benefits are probably needed the most, that veteran would face a cut of $1,400 – a reduction of 9.2 percent.
A chained CPI would cut Social Security benefits for average senior citizens who are 65 by more than $650 a year by the time they are 75 years old, and by more than $1,000 once they reach 85. 
Groups supporting Sanders include AARP, the AFL-CIO, National Organization for Women, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, AMVETS and others. 
Sanders is chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and the founder of the Defending Social Security Caucus.

Every decent American should thank the heavens we have a majority of Democrats in the US Senate.

Thank the heavens with one hand and curse the devils on the other.The Senate voted in support of an amendment for the Keystone XL Pipeline.  

Townhall Dot Com

Senate Votes To Approve Keystone Pipeline

What was missed in last night's "Vote-A-Rama" is that the U.S. Senate approved the Keystone Pipeline, with 17 Democrats joining Republicans in passing the measure, 62-37.
The Keystone amendment is non-binding, as the Obama Administration has the final say over its approval, but last night's vote was a strong sign that the Keystone Pipeline enjoys broad bipartisan support on Capitol Hill and that the Obama Administration's opposition might be wearing thin.
The Washington Post points out that the Democrats who joined Republicans are all electorally vulnerable:
The 17 Democrats who voted yes included every single possibly vulnerable incumbent facing reelection next year, from 34-year veteran Baucus to first-term Sen. Mark Begich (Alaska).
Perhaps more importantly, Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.), who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, voted for the resolution. Bennet is not up for re-election until 2016, but his post requires him to raise money from the wealthy liberal community that is highly opposed to the pipeline.
Additionally, a crop of Democrats who survived difficult reelections in 2012 — Sens. Bob Casey (Pa.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Bill Nelson (Fla.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) — all supported the GOP Keystone amendment.

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