Facing the passage of the House GOP’s “No Budget, No Pay” bill Wednesday, Senate Democrats, including Senate Budget Committee chairwoman Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), have promised they will draft a budget for the first time in four years.
“I’ve been discussing this path with my colleagues in the weeks since the year-end deal before I officially became chairman of this committee, and now that Congress is back in session, we are ready to get to work,” Murray said, according to the Washington Post.
Murray promised what she calls a “balanced approach” and said Senate Democrats “are eager to contrast our pro-growth, pro-middle class budget priorities with the House Republicans’ [Rep. Paul] Ryan budget that would end Medicare as we know it, gut investments in jobs and programs middle-class families depend on, and cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations.”
“We know that when our priorities are laid out next to Republicans’, the public stands with us,” Murray proclaimed.
The question now becomes whether House and Senate Republicans will force Murray to draft a balanced budget with actual spending cuts. Now that the House has passed the No Budget, No Pay plan, over the coming weeks and months the House and Senate will work on their budgets. It’s unclear as of yet what the Senate budget will look like.
In a lengthy statement on Wednesday, Senate Budget Committee ranking GOP member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) of Alabama signaled Republicans would be able to fight for a fiscally sound budget.
“I am gratified that Chairman Murray has announced that the Senate majority has relented and will offer its first budget in four years,” Sessions said. “Majority Leader Reid had previously said it would be ‘foolish’ to do a budget and his party cancelled the legally required Senate mark-up in 2011 and 2012–even after former Chairman Conrad had explicitly promised to bring up a budget in committee. I have repeatedly and emphatically called for an end to the Senate Democrats’ brazen legal defiance in this time of national fiscal emergency. I was frankly stunned that our new Chairman would say that Republicans ‘have time and again pulled budget negotiations out of the Budget Committees,’ when Senate Democrats alone control whether committee meetings occur. They alone decided to cancel them. The House, on the other hand, met its legal obligations.”
“To compel Senate action I have introduced legislation, blocked recess, and encouraged the use of the debt ceiling as leverage,” Sessions added. “Now, with their pay threatened, and long-simmering public anger growing, Senate Democrats have suddenly seen the light. Even just a few days ago, they were not willing to commit to doing a budget. The sooner the majority allows the budget process to move forward, the sooner meaningful debate can occur and the sooner the Senate can at last meet its legal and moral obligations. Secret meetings are an affront to popular democracy.”
Sessions added that it “certainly won’t be easy to put this nation on a sound financial course, but it is essential. Needed fiscal changes will not only prevent an economic nightmare but they will reduce growing poverty, dependency, and joblessness and help more Americans live free and prosperous lives. Republicans are eager to work on this important endeavor and look forward to the commencement of committee activity.”