In his second Senate speech, Timothy M. Kaine, D-Va., on Tuesday urged his fellow senators to back the spending bill released by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday night.
“The good news is, we can fix it and improve it, and the Appropriations Committee’s work discussed today is a way to begin to do that,” Kaine said.
Some House Republicans, who revealed their own proposal last week, came out in support of the Senate proposal because it keeps the total of $85 billion in forced spending cuts and doesn’t include new funds for either President Barack Obama’s health care plan or the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform law.
The Senate measure would also keep federal pay freezes intact and maintain tight congressional control over agency budgets, which are priorities for conservatives.
Leaders in both chambers are trying to reach a budget agreement for the rest of the fiscal year before March 27, when the current government spending authorization, known as continuing resolution, expires. Without such agreement, a government shutdown would be imminent, but both sides are optimistic that a standoff can be averted.
Kaine said that the next step is to get a fiscal 2014 budget on the Senate floor by April 15, for the first time in four years.
Funding for the rest of the year would allow Virginia shipyards to close an $11 billion operations and maintenance shortfall and move forward with delayed construction, as well as repairs to facilities, including the carriers USS Roosevelt and the USS Lincoln, Kaine said.
Virginia is among the states especially affected by budget uncertainty through sequestration. Thousands of civilian employees of the Department of Defense are facing furloughs, and the deployment of the USS Truman to the Middle East has been delayed.
“I strongly support the approach that the Appropriations Committee under its leadership has worked on,” Kaine said. “It’s good for the United States, it’s good for Virginia and it represents a move to forward-looking budgeting rather than playing out of last year’s playbook.”
The Senate Budget Committee is expected to mark up its budget this week.