Utah senators divided on Bipartisan Budget Act

L-R: Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee

WASHINGTON D.C. – Sen. Orrin Hatch said he will support the Bipartisan Budget Act, legislation negotiated by House and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., which passed the House of Representatives on Friday. Sen. Mike Lee has said he will not support it.

Hatch issued the following statement Monday announcing his support for the proposed bill:

This agreement isn’t everything I’d hoped it would be, and it isn’t what I would have written. But sometimes the answer has to be yes. The reality is that Republicans only control one-half of one-third of government. Ultimately, this agreement upholds the principles conservatives stand for and, with Democrats controlling the White House and the Senate, it is the best we could hope for.

I know that crafting this budget was hard fought, and it’s built on the necessary consensus that reflects divided government. I appreciate the hard work of Paul Ryan, Speaker Boehner, and House Republicans in crafting this commendable compromise that reduces our debt over the long-term, prevents another government shutdown, and stops the budget battles that have rocked America with economic uncertainty and political pessimism. Much more work needs to be done to address the number one drivers of our country’s debt – our entitlement programs. But my hope is that this budget agreement paves the way to greater stability, lasting deficit reduction, and the political will to tackle those challenges in the near future.

Lee issued two statements opposing the bill, the first last Wednesday before the House passed the legislation:

Rather than enacting reforms to make government more efficient, the budget deal makes more government more expensive. Sequestration is far from ideal, but at least it forced Congress get serious about excessive spending. This deal cuts into the modest gains taxpayers have won since 2011, by trading concrete spending reductions over the next two years for theoretical spending cuts a decade from now. In the meantime, the deal raises taxes on all air travellers, so that Congress can continue to ignore both waste in discretionary spending and the ticking fiscal time-bomb of our entitlement programs.

I do not envy House Republicans in their task of negotiating a budget with a Senate majority and president hostile to the very idea of having one. But the deal they have struck is not one I can support.

If there is a silver lining in this deal, it at least further confirms the need for Republicans to finally develop a comprehensive conservative reform agenda. Real reform involves not simply cutting dysfunctional programs, but fixing them so government doesn’t cost so much in the first place. And as Democrats continue to hide from those reforms at the behest of their special-interest clients, Republicans must begin to advance our ideas openly and transparently, not behind closed doors up against artificial deadlines set by the forces of the status quo.

The second statement, issued Monday, argues that the state of Utah would lose approximately $32 million in payments from the federal government:

Under the Mineral Leasing Act, the federal government leases federal land for the development of energy, minerals and other materials, and shares the revenue with the states in which the leases are held. The revenue is currently split evenly between the states and the federal government. Section 302 of the budget deal would only decrease what the states receive, leaving the federal portion intact. That would mean a total reduction of $415 million for the states, with roughly $32 million coming from Utah.

It is unfortunate that the budget targets the mineral leasing program. Many of Utah’s rural communities depend on this funding and we shouldn’t be pulling the rug out from under them when there are so many other wasteful and ineffective programs in the federal government to reform.


To learn more about the Bipartisan Budget Act, click here.

To read the text of the Bipartisan Budget Act presented to the House, click here.

Related post

Utah congressmen vote for Bipartisan Budget Act

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

L-R: Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee
L-R: Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee

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  • Roger December 18, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Interesting which one believes we should balance the budget on the backs of veterans who defend this country and those who represent us. Thanks alot Orrin……

  • Craig December 19, 2013 at 5:54 am

    What you voted for Orrin is a pay CUT to our disabled vets.
    You need to retire before you do anymore damage to Utah and this great nation.

  • Karen December 19, 2013 at 7:47 am

    Actually the bill reduces cost-of-living adjustments for ONLY working-age military retirees by 1 percent starting in December 2015, although the existing rate would apply again once former service members reach age 62. After the bill passes, there will be a technical fix so that disabled vets are exempt from any cuts. Fox News can whine all they want but they don’t have their facts straight.

    I’m no fan of Orrin Hatch but Mike Lee, who caused the government shutdown which cost Utah $30 million dollars, has nothing to offer except “no” to everything. I find it quite funny that the guy who hates government is now complaining that Utah won’t be getting something FROM the government.

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