The Senate Parliamentarian Just Called Kent Conrad’s Budget Bluff
Republicans say that Democrats haven’t passed a budget in over 1,000 days. Democrats, including alleged “budget hawk” Senator Kent Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, say the Budget Control Act (the much-maligned “debt deal” that gave us the super committee) was, in fact, a budget.
Not so, says Senate’s parliamentarian:
Newly appointed Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, whom Reid recommended for the job, has decided that last summer’s deal on the debt ceiling and spending caps does not preclude the Senate from taking up other budget resolutions this year. The ruling could force vulnerable Democrats to cast tough votes that hurt them in November, a situation Reid and other leaders are eager to avoid as they work to protect their fragile majority. …
More than anything, the MacDonough decision turns up the heat on retiring Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, who with Reid’s blessing first approached the parliamentarian and asked for her opinion on the matter.
Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat, had vowed publicly that he would mark up a 2013 budget resolution in his committee this year. But behind the scenes he was making the case to MacDonough that the August enactment of the Budget Control Act meant that any proposed budgets would not automatically get placed on the Senate calendar to await action. Based on Senate precedent, if the Budget Committee has not produced a budget resolution by April 1, then any budget plan offered in the Senate is automatically put on the Senate calendar.
The Budget Control Act wasn’t a budget. Democrats haven’t passed a budget since 2009. There is no responsibility more fundamental to Congress’ mandate than managing the nation’s finances, and Democrats don’t want to do that, because debating a budget exposes just how irresponsible they’ve been with the nation’s checkbook.Tags: deficits, Kent Conrad, national debt