A budget resolution seeks to set benchmarks for Congress to follow, but is not law. Republicans have hammered Democrats in the Senate for failing to pass a budget resolution in the past three years. Democrats have argued that with a divided Congress, short-term budgets have passed through negotiations between the Senate and the Republican-led House.
Majority Leader Harry Reid called the resolution debate "a series of political show votes" that wasted a day, while Lee and Republicans accused Democrats of "a lack of leadership."
One of the five proposals was modeled after President Barack Obama's budget and it garnered zero votes. Others were offered by a trio of freshman GOP senators, including Lee, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
Lee's proposal is largely copied from the Heritage Foundation plan. It would eliminate the payroll tax and create a flat income tax for individuals and companies. His plan also would have drastically changed Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. In one example, it would offer Medicaid recipients a tax credit to buy coverage on the open market.
Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., didn't criticize the policy goals in Lee's budget, but its math, saying it had "the most serious mistakes" he has seen in his 26-years working with federal budgets.