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Nancy  Madsen
By Nancy Madsen October 14, 2013

McDonnell says U.S. Senate hasn't passed a budget in 4-1/2 years

During an Oct. 2 interview on Fox News, Gov. Bob McDonnell said there is a pox on both political parties for causing the federal government’s partial shutdown. But he insisted the biggest welts are on the backs of President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate.

McDonnell, a Republican, noted that 49 states require the passage of balanced budgets each year. That includes Virginia.

"We’re incredulous, at the state level, it’s been four and a half years since the United States Senate has passed a budget, a spending blueprint for America," McDonnell said. "You know, no business, no state, no local government, no church, no synagogue, or a family could ever run like that."

Later in the interview, McDonnell repeated that the Senate has not passed a budget in 4-1/2 years. We asked for asked for elaboration and Tucker Martin, McDonnell’s chief of communications, sent us a PolitiFact Tennessee article from September 2012. It gave Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn, a True rating for saying the Senate has failed to pass a budget in "more than three years."

That Truth-O-Meter item said Senate hadn’t passed a budget since April 29, 2009.  But things have changed.

Featured Fact-check

The Senate, on March 23 this year, passed a $3.7 trillion budget on a 50-49 vote that maintained entitlements -- such as Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare -- and discretionary domestic programs. It differed from a $3.5 trillion House budget, passed three days earlier, that significantly cut entitlement programs and deficits over the coming decade.

Efforts to send the competing budgets to a conference committee have been unsuccessful, however. A group of Tea Party senators has blocked motions -- which need unanimous consent -- to advance the Senate’s spending plan. They have insisted on assurances that the budget negotiations would not lead to higher taxes and voiced concern that a conference committee could create momentum for procedures that thwart filibusters against increasing the nation's debt limit.

Our ruling

McDonnell said the U.S. Senate hasn’t passed a budget in four and a half years. His information is out of date. The Senate passed a budget in March. A group of Republican senators has  blocked efforts to begin budget negotiations with the House.

What a difference a year makes for this claim. McDonnell’s statement is False.

Our Sources

Bob McDonnell, interview on Fox Business Network on YouTube, Oct. 2, 2013.

Email from Tucker Martin, Oct. 3, 2013.

PolitiFact Tennessee, "Bob Corker says Senate has not passed a budget in more than three years," Sept. 28, 2012.

The New York Times, "Senate Passes $3.7 Trillion Budget, Setting Up Contentious Negotiations," March 23, 2013.

CNN, "Senate passes its first budget proposal in four years," March 23, 2013.

NBCNews, "House passes budget for 2014, sends 2013 spending bill to Obama," March 21, 2013.

House Budget Committee, "2014 Fiscal Year Tables," accessed Oct. 8, 2013.

Roll Call, "Could Democrats Work Around the ‘Budget Bullies’?" May 7, 2013.

The Associated Press, "Tea party vs. old guard in GOP Senate rift," May 24, 2013.

Library of Congress, THOMAS report on appropriations bills’ statuses for fiscal year 2014, accessed Oct. 8, 2013.

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McDonnell says U.S. Senate hasn't passed a budget in 4-1/2 years

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