Forget Censure, Dems Say the Debt Is the Threat

ByABC News
March 13, 2006, 11:28 PM

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2006 -- -- While Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., took to the Senate floor to blast President Bush's domestic spying program, other Senate Democrats concentrated on an issue they believe may hold more sway with the average voter -- the national debt.

"The president broke the law, ignored the Constitution and disregarded the rights and freedoms on which our country was founded," Feingold thundered on the Senate floor as he introduced his resolution. If Feingold gets enough of his colleagues' support to censure the president, it would be the first time for such a move since Senate Republicans censured Democrat Andrew Jackson in 1834.

But Feingold's Democratic colleagues gave him tepid support at best. Instead, they spent the day attacking the White House's budget for cutting programs that help fund police and firefighters, unveiling charts and graphs that purport to show how this White House has amassed more debt in five years than the previous 42 presidents combined.

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., who sits on the Senate Budget Committee and has taken on the role of chief Democrat in charge of creating alarming budget charts and graphs, said at least 10 times during his floor speech, "The debt is the threat."

The Senate must increase the debt ceiling by $800 billion over its current $8.2 trillion for the government to continue operating after next week, and Conrad and others have used the moment to target Bush's budget policies.

Earlier in the day, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., both declined to endorse the censure resolution. Rather than censure the president, Lieberman said he would "prefer to see us solve the problem."

Republicans, for their part, seized on Feingold's censure resolution, using it to label Democrats as weak on fighting terrorism. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said the censure resolution would aid terrorists by jeopardizing a necessary tool in the war on terror.