Rahall, Rockefeller blast GOP budget

WASHINGTON – Two West Virginia Democrats panned the budget passed in the House of Representatives, calling it a slap in the face and unfair.

The Ryan Budget named after Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was adopted last week by the House by a 221-207 vote on party lines. Republicans favored the budget, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., voted in favor while Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., and Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., voted against.

The budget will harm West Virginia’s economy and working, middle-class families, Rahall said,.

“It is not fair, and it is not right, that the most privileged and comfortable in our society should be shielded from painful spending decisions, while higher costs for energy, health care, and education are shifted to working, middle-class families. Certainly, I am going to fight that kind of budget any way that I can,” Rahall said. “Should a budget like the one passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives ever be enacted into law, it would end traditional Medicare as we know it and eviscerate domestic investments in job creation and economic growth.”

While the Congressional budget is a nonbinding measure that does not have the force of law, it traditionally sets spending and revenue levels for the year, Rahall said. This year, the $3.5 trillion budget from the Republicans cuts spending in transportation and water infrastructure, education and health care, law enforcement and other job-creating programs, he said.

A controversial proposal to restructure Medicare into a voucher system, ending the guaranteed payment of benefits for seniors’ health care, and hinting at similar changes to the Social Security program are in Republican budget plan, Rahall said.

“We have a moral obligation to the working West Virginians who have spent a lifetime paying into the Social Security and Medicare programs; seniors, especially those on fixed incomes, depend on the benefits they have earned and been promised and rightly deserve,” said Rahall.

The budget passed Saturday morning by the Senate where the Democrats are in control is a balanced approach to controlling spending and reducing the deficit, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said.

“It’s also good news for West Virginia and this country that the Senate voted down the House Republicans’ so-called “Ryan” budget. “The Ryan budget isn’t anything new and voting on it yet again this year doesn’t change the harmful effect it would have on low and middle income families just trying to get by,” Rockefeller said. “Shredding crucial safety net programs in the name of deficit reduction isn’t honest or courageous, and it’s a slap in the face to millions of families who count on those programs, particularly during tough times.”

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., introduced six amendments to the 2014 budget from the Senate. They were among more than 500 offered, of which few made it to the floor for a vote, and are non-binding.

Manchin’s amendments on prescription drug abuse and preventing funding for the enforcement of the New Source Performance Standard from the Environmental Protection Agency were passed by unanimous consent. The EPA regulation would apply practically unattainable carbon dioxide emissions standards upon new coal-fired power plants.

“My proposed amendments focus on many of the issues that West Virginians truly care about, including making sure our miners are safe, reducing our deficit, spending our money more responsibly, moving toward energy independence, curbing the prescription drug abuse epidemic and safeguarding our national security,” Manchin said.

The Senate budget, the first passed by the upper chamber in four years, was passed by a 50-49 vote, also on party lines with Republicans opposed. Manchin and Rockefeller voted in favor.

Four Democrats voted no, Sens. Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. Not voting was Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.