Meh. They only put pen to paper on a budget once or twice in the last five years anyway, so why start getting fussy about that whole “dereliction of duty” thing now? They’ve got midterms to worry about, people. Via Reuters:
Democrats in the U.S. Senate won’t bother with passing their own budget this year, arguing that a deal in December has already set spending levels for the 2015 fiscal year, and “relitigating” it would create economic uncertainty. …
“While this budget year is settled and it wouldn’t be productive to relitigate it so soon after our two-year deal, I plan to work with my colleagues on the Budget Committee to lay out our long-term vision for creating jobs, boosting the economy, and tackling our deficits fairly and responsibly,” Murray said. …
The decision by Murray not to go through the motions of passing a budget also will allow Senate Democrats to avoid an open amendment process that allows any senator to seek vote on any amendment to the budget – a process that could last days known as a “vote-a-rama.”
With November congressional elections looming, Democrats are concerned that this could devolve into a series of partisan votes that could be used in campaign advertising.
True that the budget deal that passed both chambers in December established a discretionary spending level of $1.014 trillion for 2015, but at the very least, a budget is a good way to definitively lay out where everybody stands on a whole host of specific and dicey issues. Murray’s ranking-member counterpart was not pleased by the news, via the Weekly Standard:
Senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama released this statement. “Senate Democrats are required by law to produce a budget,” wrote Sessions.
“Our nation is in enormous financial distress, and workers and families are suffering. Senate Democrats have produced only one budget in the last five years. This Senate and, more importantly, the American public, deserve to see a detailed ten-year financial plan to contain our dangerously rising debt and revitalize our dismal economy.”
A handful of Republicans were actually pushing for Murray’s House-GOP counterpart Paul Ryan not to do a budget this year either, the better to avoid handing Democrats any more cudgels with which to distract from that most inconvenient of political liabilities, ObamaCare. Speaker Boehner announced on Thursday, however, that the House does intend to vote on a full and balanced budget resolution:
“CBO says our budget outlook is unsustainable. We’ve made some progress on the discretionary side, but on the main drivers of our debt-entitlements-we’ve got a lot more work to do,” Ryan said through his spokesman Thursday. “House Republicans will keep offering real solutions to get spending under control, fix our broken tax code, create jobs, and put us on the path to balance.”