Senate Republicans offer budget schedule for March ahead of CR showdown

Have Republicans on Capitol Hill finally begun to craft a strategy for a budget showdown? Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee floated a schedule for producing the first budget since April 2009 on an expedited schedule for the FY2014 deadlines, coincidentally just ahead of the expiration of the current FY2013 continuing resolution on March 27th:

Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee have put forward a schedule for producing a budget resolution this year to committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

The Senate has not passed a budget resolution since 2009, and Murray last year suggested that a budget may not get done again this year.

In a letter made public Wednesday, Republicans lay out a detailed hearing and markup schedule to meet the legal deadline for producing a budget.

They call for a budget markup on March 11 in committee and for March 18 floor consideration, leading to a conferenced House-Senate resolution by the April 15 deadline.

“We believe the Budget Committee cannot be a bystander at this historic time when the nation will be confronting the most serious debt issues. We must take the steps necessary to avoid what Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles have told our committee will be the ‘the most predictable economic crisis in history,’ ” the letter states, naming the president’s deficit commission chairmen.

This is a polite request to a return to normal order.  If Republicans have been consistent on one point after the fiscal-cliff mess at the end of last year, it’s a unity on the end of crisis budgeting.  Harry Reid and Senate Democrats have flouted the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 for nearly four years, in favor of cliffs and brinksmanship.  This delivers a challenge immediately ahead of a potential House GOP refusal to depart from normal order on the rest of the FY2013 budget, and a showdown that could turn into a government shutdown without serious spending cuts.

And so far, it looks as though Murray will walk into the trap:

Murray’s office said Wednesday that she appreciates the suggestions but she is still working to determine whether to move a budget through committee.

Yes, you read that right.  The Senate Budget Committee chair is deciding whether or not to produce a budget.  It’s a good thing that the Armed Services chair isn’t mulling over whether to have armed services.  Or maybe I shouldn’t give Harry Reid any more ideas.