Whew. For a while there, we thought that the streak might be coming to an end:
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) bowed to pressure from fellow Democrats on Tuesday and postponed a committee vote on a 2013 budget resolution, most likely until after the November elections.
Conrad on Wednesday will begin a committee markup of a resolution based on the Bowles-Simpson deficit recommendations, but told reporters there is no date scheduled on which the markup vote would occur.
“This is the wrong time to vote in committee; this is the wrong time to vote on the floor,” he said. “I don’t think we will be prepared to vote before the election.”
At least Democrats are consistent. It has been the wrong time to vote for a budget resolution in the Senate — in committee and on the floor — for 1,085 days now. That’s been true when Democrats had 59 votes as well as 53 votes, as they do now. To borrow from James Taylor: Winter, spring, summer or fall … all Harry Reid has to do is call … and the budget won’t be there, yeah … you’ve got a stall.
Conrad plans to hold “markup” sessions without votes, but Keith Hennessey says that markup sessions without votes are just meetings:
I imagine Chairman Conrad will receive favorable press coverage for proposing the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson recommendations. If he doesn’t use his power as Chairman to force a vote, however, then his proposal is little more than an interesting debate topic.
Unless I’m missing something Chairman Conrad is not marking up a budget resolution tomorrow. He is instead convening the committee for a discussion. He will lay down the Bowles-Simpson numbers as his own and everyone will talk. Then he will adjourn the meeting tomorrow without any votes, without any date to reconvene, without any deadline or forcing action for private bipartisan negotiations he hopes will then occur but for which he has low expectations of success.
It’s not a markup if you don’t vote.
The job of a Member of Congress is to vote on legislation, not to talk about legislation. Talk is sometimes helpful but If Members of Congress are not voting they’re not doing their job.
As Hennessey also points out, it’s not just that Senate Democrats aren’t doing their job. They’re violating the law. The Congressional Budget Act requires both chambers to produce budget resolutions by April 15th, a date chosen for obvious reasons. American taxpayers don’t get the option of simply skipping their taxes until the “right time” to do them magically appears, and yet Senate Democrats have chosen to flout the law despite controlling the upper chamber and having a fellow Democrat in the White House.
This isn’t leadership. It’s not stewardship. It’s a flaccid, passive-aggressive, three-year-long streak of political cowardice, a disgrace that Conrad will carry into his retirement as his political legacy.