By law, both the House and the Senate are required to prepare, mark up, amend and pass a budget resolution by April 15. Last year neither body (both then under Democratic control) complied with the law. This year, the Republican House passed its budget resolution on April 15, but the Democrat-controlled Senate is still in default.
It now appears that Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad has a proposed budget in hand; he has briefed Democratic members of the Budget Committee on its contents. But he is keeping the Democrat budget secret from both the public and from Republicans on his committee.
We wrote a week ago about the Republicans on the Budget Committee sending a letter to Conrad, asking him to post the Democrats’ proposed budget on line at least three days before the committee meets to discuss it, so that the American people–including many who are experts in various aspects of the budget–can have an opportunity to analyze and comment on it. Conrad has ignored the Republicans’ request.
It appears that the Budget Committee will begin its mark-up of the Democrats’ budget next week, either Monday or Tuesday. Ranking Republican Jeff Sessions issued a statement today that says, in part:
After weeks of delay, I have been informed that a mark-up in the Budget Committee may occur as soon as the beginning of next week. Every single Republican has asked for, and expects to receive, 72 hours to review Chairman Conrad’s budget resolution before he brings it forward in the Committee. …
We cannot afford at this time in history to craft the nation’s budget in locked chambers and behind closed doors. … The American people deserve an open and honest legislative process.
t has now been more than 700 days since the Senate passed a budget–how can the Democrat majority not justify even three days to review a proposal before we amend it? My fear is that Democrats hope to rush a proposal through the Committee that conceals substantial tax hikes, only pretends to deal with entitlements, and avoids immediate cuts to spending in favor of distant promises for the future.
That’s a safe bet. It is important for the proposed budget to be posted on line and distributed to Republican members of the committee so that experts can analyze it, along with the general public, and the Republicans can be prepared to discuss it intelligently when the mark-up process begins. Otherwise, we will have another 1,000 page monstrosity that the public has not had an opportunity to read and understand, like the Obamacare bill. Senate Democrats are about to propose a plan to spend tens of trillions of dollars of our money, not theirs. So why don’t they want us to see their plan?