Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has kept the count for weeks: Today, it’s up to 763. For 763 days, Senate Democrats have failed to pass or even propose an original budget resolution — even though the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 requires the Senate to do just that.
But you’d expect the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee to pressure his Democratic colleagues to craft a budget and call it to a vote. You don’t necessarily expect the mainstream media to apply that pressure, as well. But this weekend and through today, that’s exactly what has happened.
Here’s Dana Milbank, writing today in The Washington Post:
The Senate is supposed to be in Memorial Day recess this week. But the chamber is so ungovernable that Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn’t even have the votes to declare a recess. So he decided instead to have a few “pro forma” sessions, such as Tuesday’s, allowing senators to take a vacation without voting for it.
In a sense, the Senate has been in a pro-forma session all year … Although there’s general agreement that the most pressing issue facing the federal government is its runaway finances, the Democrat-controlled Senate hasn’t passed a budget in 762 days, a new standard for dereliction of duty.
It is just the sort of thing that offends Americans about Washington: The triumph of tactical advantage over the national interest. Democrats were understandably embarrassed about voting themselves a vacation so soon after abandoning their budget responsibilities. So when Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the top Republican on the budget committee, demanded a roll-call vote on the recess, Reid used the pro forma loophole.
Milbank wasn’t the first. WaPo blogger Ezra Klein has sounded awfully frustrated with the inaction on the left side of the Senate (although he hasn’t quite come close to outright criticism). And even The New York Times editorial board this weekend urged Democrats to produce a budget. Admittedly, the board took a tone that makes me cringe a little, but the concession is still clear. “Republican leaders in the Senate have spent weeks gleefully deriding the Democrats who run the chamber for not producing a budget proposal in more than two years,” the editorial begins. “The truth, though, is that the Republicans also have a point.”
Of course Republicans have a point. But a little part of me thinks Republicans should also be careful what they wish for: If Democrats do produce a budget, it won’t be an advisable one. Half The New York Times editorial hounded the importance of tax hikes.
But the larger part of me thinks transparency is always an advisable approach: Best to bring Dems’ budget ideas up for a debate and allow the American people to compare the Democrat and Republican plans. I’m just surprised The New York Times editorial board feels the same way.