Senate Democrats

The Costs of Bush-McCain Republican Obstruction

Senate Democrats are working to address the most pressing problems facing our nation by proposing comprehensive legislation to address the record high gas prices, housing crisis, rising unemployment and the barriers our returning veterans face in finding employment when they return home from war, but Bush-McCain Republicans continue to stand in the way. The costs of their obstruction to the American people are stark: average gas prices are a record $4.05 per gallon; more than one million homes are in foreclosure; the economy has lost 324,000 jobs this year; and finally, the rate of young veterans out of the workforce surged to 23 percent in 2005, up from just 10 percent in 2000. These costs are too high for the American people to bear. It is time for Republicans to stop standing in the way and work with Democrats to craft solutions to the problems facing working families.

Republicans obstruct on energy – Americans suffer record high gas prices:

Republicans Blocked Extension of Expiring Middle-Class Taxes and Energy Tax Incentives. Republicans blocked the motion to invoke cloture (thus limiting debate) on the motion to proceed to the bill that would extend dozens of expired or expiring tax provisions for one year and create new energy-related tax incentives. Motion rejected by a vote of 50-44: R 3-44; D 45-0; I 2-0. [Senate Vote #147, HR 6049, 6/10/08]

Republicans Blocked the Consumer-First Energy Act. Republicans blocked the motion to invoke cloture (thus limiting debate) on the motion to proceed to the bill that would repeal tax benefits worth $17 billion over 10 years that oil companies received in 2004 and 2005, and direct the money to renewable energy. It also would impose a "windfall profits" tax on the largest oil companies. Motion rejected by a vote of 51-43: R 6-41; D 43-2 (ND 39-1, SD 4-1); I 2-0. [Senate Vote #146, S. 3044, 6/10/08]

  • Average Gas Prices Are Now a Record High $4.05 Per Gallon. According to AAA, the average cost for a gallon of gas is now $4.05. [AAA Fuel Gauge Report, 6/11/08]

Republicans obstruct on housing – Americans continue to face foreclosure, lose home equity:

White House Issued Veto Threat and Senate Republicans Have Slow-Walked Negotiations on Bill to Deal With Housing Crisis. Following passage in the House of Congressman Frank’s FHA reform bill at the beginning of May the White House issued a veto threat widely seen as a move to give Republicans more leverage in negotiations with Democrats. “That leverage is seen in the Senate, where Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and ranking minority member Richard Shelby, R-Ala. are negotiating a housing package that could include GSE reform, FHA reform, and a Dodd FHA rescue proposal similar to Frank’s. When asked if Frank’s proposal is something he could support, Shelby told CNN’s Jeanne Meserve, ‘I’d have to evaluate it – how we’re going to pay for it., what it’s really going to do, do we really know if housing prices have bottomed out.’” [CNN, 5/8/08]

  • Dodd-Shelby FHA Bill Would Help 400,000 Homeowners Avoid Foreclosure. “Based on information from the Federal Reserve and mortgage industry data, CBO estimates that there are about 11 million subprime and alt-A mortgages outstanding, with a face value of over $2 trillion. Of those 11 million loans, we estimate that about 9 million are for owner-occupied houses. Of those 9 million borrowers, CBO estimates that, over the 2009-2011 period, about 400,000 would refinance troubled loans worth about $68 billion under the new program that this bill would establish.” [CBO, 6/9/08]
  • Mortgage Bankers Association Found 1 Million Homes in Foreclosure – 2.5 Percent Is Highest Rate Ever Recorded. “More than one million homes are now in foreclosure, the highest rate ever recorded, according to a trade group which warned Thursday that number will continue to climb. The Mortgage Bankers Association’s first quarter report showed that a record 2.5% of all loans being serviced by its members are now in foreclosure, which works out to about 1.1 million homes. That’s up from the 2% of loans, or about 938,000 homes, that were in foreclosure at the end of 2007.” [CNN, 6/5/08]
  • Homeowners’ Portion of Equity in their Home Slipped to Lowest Level Since World War II. “The equity Americans have in their most important asset — their homes — has dropped to its lowest level since the end of World War II. Homeowners’ portion of equity slipped to 46.2 percent in the first quarter from a revised 47.5 percent in the previous quarter. That was the fifth quarter in a row below the 50 percent mark, the Federal Reserve said Thursday. The total dollar value of equity also fell for the fourth straight quarter to $9.12 trillion from $9.52 trillion in the fourth quarter, while Americans’ total mortgage debt rose to $10.6 trillion from $10.53 trillion.” [Associated Press, 6/5/08]

Republicans obstruct on unemployment benefits – thousands of jobs have been lost and unemployment rate has surged:

Senate Republicans Blocked Unemployment Insurance Extension Addition to Economic Stimulus. “Republicans in the Senate have suddenly turned against the economic stimulus bill now that the Finance Committee has added billions in spending for unemployment, senior citizens and energy tax breaks. So Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has decided to wait until he can pull Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) away from the campaign trail before holding a series of critical votes on the economic stimulus package.” [Politico, 1/31/08]

President Bush Threatened to Veto Supplemental Appropriations Bill Extending Unemployment Benefits. “Because Congress has failed to address these criteria as described below, if this bill were presented to the President in its current form, he would veto it… The unemployment rate is 5.0 percent — a low rate by historical and economic standards. The current unemployment insurance program already provides significant assistance; including six months of benefits and extended benefits beyond six months if a state has a high and rising unemployment rate. Increasing and extending unemployment insurance benefits when unemployment is this low would be unprecedented and counterproductive because it would reduce the incentive for workers to find new employment.” [Statement of Administration Policy, 5/20/08]

  • Unemployment Rate Increased to 5.5 Percent, U.S. Economy Lost Jobs for Fifth Straight Month – 324,000 Jobs Lost in 2008 So Far. The economy lost jobs for the fifth straight month in May. Job losses so far in 2008 have totaled 324,000. The economy shed 49,000 jobs in May, up from 28,000 in April. [Reuters, 6/6/08]

Republicans obstruct on expanded G.I. Bill – returning veterans struggle with unmployment:

President Bush, Senator McCain and Others Republican Senators Oppose Expanded G.I. Bill. “By a vote of 75-22, the Senate approved an expanded version of the GI bill today. Proposed by Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., it’s the biggest expansion of the bill in the past quarter-century, according to the New York Times. But it has also been opposed by, among others, President Bush and presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain.” [Salon, 5/22/08]

President Bush Threatened to Veto Supplemental Spending Bill That Included 21st Century G.I. Bill. “Because Congress has failed to address these criteria as described below, if this bill were presented to the President in its current form, he would veto it… The Administration supports enhancements to the Montgomery GI Bill and to that end transmitted a legislative proposal on April 25, 2008 to allow for the transferability of unused education benefits to spouses or dependent children of military personnel. Not only does this legislation lack such transferability, the Administration is also concerned that because of the high benefit for limited service included in this bill, it could harm retention rates within the armed forces. Any additional legislation should reward those who have agreed to serve while strengthening our all volunteer force as outlined by the Secretary of Defense in his letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee. The Administration is supportive of alternative legislation now pending in the Senate and looks forward to addressing these issues with Congress in the context of future legislative activity.” [Statement of Administration Policy, 5/20/08]

  • 1.7 Million Servicemembers Who Have Served on Active Duty Since 9/11 Have Not Received the Benefits They Deserve. [Contingency Tracking System Deployment File via CRS, 4/08]  
  • VA Study Found Young Veterans Experienced Higher Unemployment, Lower Wages Than Young Non-Veterans. “A new government report paints a dire picture of the employment prospects of returning military veterans, concluding that young veterans earn less and have a harder time finding work than do civilians in the same age group. The report prepared for the Veterans Affairs Department found that the percentage of veterans not in the labor force — because they couldn’t find jobs, stopped looking for work, or went back to school — jumped to 23% in 2005 from 10% in 2000. Half of the young veterans — ages 20 to 24 — with steady employment earned less than $25,000 per year, it found.” [Wall Street Journal, 3/25/08]