Senate turns back attempt by Paul to force budget debate

WASHINGTON — The Senate Thursday swatted away an attempt by Sen. Rand Paul to force a debate on sweeping budget cuts and on federal deficits that are growing despite a strong economy.

After last year's tax cuts and a two-year agreement on agency budget levels, Republicans controlling Congress aren't trying to pass a budget blueprint this year. There's no appetite to cut popular programs in such a difficult political environment.

"You may remember that Republicans campaigned against enormous spending by President Obama and trillion dollar annual deficits," Paul said. "Now we're faced with enormous spending and trillion dollar annual deficits from Republicans. I think it is important that we have a discussion over this."

Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, offered a budget with a draconian $13 trillion worth of cuts over the coming decade, but he didn't describe where they would come from. Instead he calls on lawmakers to come up with "new efficiencies, consolidations, and other savings."

Paul's move came as GOP leaders are encountering indifference or outright opposition to President Donald Trump's request to cut $15 billion worth of unused government funding.

Opponents said Paul's amendment would force cuts to the Pentagon and other programs and lacked the specifics to be taken seriously.

The Senate voted 76-21 to reject Paul's effort.

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