U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is defending her vote against a budget plan that supporters say would have forced the federal budget to balance within the next five years.

On Thursday, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky won a floor vote by the full Senate on what has been dubbed the “penny plan.”

The plan would require cutting one penny for every dollar of federal spending, and doing so each year for the next five years, at which point projections say the budget would balance. Thereafter, Paul’s plan would impose annual limits of 1 percent growth in the federal budget.

Social Security would have been exempted from the annual budget cuts.

In total, only 21 senators, all Republicans, voted in favor of the measure.

Voting against the bill were 48 Democrats and 24 Republicans, including both Mississippi’s senators, Hyde-Smith and Roger Wicker.

Hyde-Smith, appointed to her current position by Gov. Phil Bryant, is among four candidates competing in a November general election to complete the rest of now-retired Thad Cochran’s term.

Special election candidate Chris McDaniel strongly criticized Hyde-Smith’s vote against the penny plan and reiterated his attacks that she lacks conservative credentials.

“This comes as no surprise,” McDaniel said in a written statement. “After all, she is a lifelong Democrat, and she showed it today by proving that she doesn’t care about the debt, not even a penny’s worth.”

Hyde-Smith served in the state legislature as a Democrat until switching parties in 2010.

She defended her vote against Paul’s plan in a press release.

“I support balancing the budget by controlling spending and the national debt,” Hyde-Smith said. “However, there’s little value in theatric votes on bills that sound good but would result in irresponsible cuts to priorities like funding our military, building the border wall, and implementing President Trump’s agenda. I do not believe such consequences are in the best interests of our nation or Mississippi.”

caleb.bedillion@journalinc.com Twitter: @CalebBedillion

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