Before the Memorial Day recess, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, requested the Senate not adjourn until it addressed the lack of a budget — so Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid cleverly shifted the Senate gears into a series of pro forma sessions.
But the Senate is again scheduled to recess in a week. So, today, while the president exhibited his unparalleled ability to deflect questions, Sessions took once more to the Senate floor to reiterate the importance of Senate action on the budget before a recess.
“In just five weeks, we’re told we’ll reach the firm deadline on our nation’s $14.3 trillion debt, which has doubled in the last few years,” Sessions said. “Then, major reductions occur unless action is taken. The Republican House has set forth their plan, but the Democratic Senate hasn’t done so. [The Senate] hasn’t passed a budget in 791 days … And now the Senate is scheduled to take next week off … Before the Memorial Day recess I presented to the Majority Leader a letter, signed by 46 Republican senators, stating that we should not recess but remain in session to work on a budget plan … I renew the request from our letter.”
Sessions has been beating this drum for a long time — but he’s right to persist. More than 22 million Americans are out of work. A majority of Americans now fear the next generation will be worse off than theirs has been. And in the time that the Democrat-controlled Senate has taken no action on the budget, the debt has grown by $3.2 trillion.
To mark up a budget is one of the Senate’s most basic responsibilities. Wasn’t it Obama himself who said just today that taking a vacation without paying for it is “not how responsible families act“? I assume that means he supports Sen. Sessions call …
Incidentally, some news sources have actually made it sound as though Sessions’ call to remain in session was a response to Obama’s exhortation to Congress to act immediately on the debt ceiling — which he made during his news conference this afternoon. In fact, it was probably the other way around. According to a Republican aide with knowledge of Senate leadership discussions, the president likely knew Sessions might object if Reid asked for unanimous consent to adjourn, which would have put the recess to a vote. After all, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell certainly knew and he met with Reid just this week. Reid probably tipped the president off, too. So Obama had nothing to lose by also demanding concentrated action from Congress.
As a side note, the recess at hand is the Independence Day recess. I can think of few things that smack of dependence more than debt. Certainly, nations have to be able to borrow money — but they should also be able to demonstrate the potential to pay it back or, at the very least, have some kind of plan in place.