Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is planning to force the Senate to vote this week on a cut to all federal spending by 5%, which could include entitlements, he announced Thursday.
Paul announced the measure as an amendment to the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) – the debt limit deal negotiated by the White House and House Republicans – which was passed by the House of Representatives Wednesday, according to a press release. The amendment would also replace the FRA’s suspension of the debt ceiling with a smaller, $500 billion increase and, as Paul claims, would achieve a balanced budget by 2028.
“Bold actions must be taken to defeat our mounting national debt, and my conservative alternative to the Biden-McCarthy deal gives us a real opportunity to get our fiscal house in order,” wrote Paul in his press release.
Paul reiterated Thursday that he plans to force a vote on the amendment this week.
This morning I joined @MorningsMaria to discuss the upcoming debt deal battle in the Senate and my conservative alternative. I will insist on an amendment vote to enact REAL spending caps that lead to a balanced budget in 5 years! pic.twitter.com/T1u1IWkeZK
— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) June 1, 2023
Speaking on background, a spokesperson for Paul said that the amendment will specifically exempt “Social Security and postal” from cuts. When asked whether other entitlement programs – such as Medicare, Medicaid, and federal pension programs for civilian and military employees – would be cut, they said that no cuts were specified but that “Congress has to make the decisions on what to prioritize.”
Voting on federal entitlement programs has become difficult for Congressional Republicans and they have sought to avoid doing so, with House Republicans specifically excluding Social Security and Medicare from their proposed spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt limit. Well-funded senior-citizen interest groups – such as the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) – have strongly opposed any reform of the programs that would reduce benefits, which some conservatives have demanded for meaningful deficit reduction.
Among Republican presidential candidates, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has suggested raising the retirement age for Americans in their 20s, as well as limitations to benefits for wealthy recipients and Medicare Advantage, which allows some recipients to receive private insurance that is funded by the government. “Social Security goes bankrupt in 10 years, Medicare goes bankrupt in five. We have to do something,” she said.
Another candidate, former Vice President Mike Pence, has proposed “common-sense reforms that will never touch anyone who is in retirement or anyone who will retire in the next 25 years,” per a speech he delivered in March.”
Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump, also a candidate in 2024, has vowed to enact no reforms to entitlement programs. “Under no circumstances should Republicans vote to cut a single penny from Medicare or Social Security,” he said in January.
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