Senate Democrats passed a budget for the first time in four years earlier this year, a move that would seemingly please the Republicans who spent the last four years reminding everyone of the fact that the Senate hadn’t done so. But now, with the House and Senate sitting on differing budget proposals, Senate Republicans have blocked four efforts to form a conference committee that would be tasked with forming a compromise budget.
Here are seven times Republicans have chastised Senate Democrats for not passing a budget since September of last year (and assuredly, it’s not a comprehensive list), including two instances in which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blasted them for not moving to the type of bicameral conference committee the Republicans are now blocking:
1. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “A second term presents the opportunity to do things differently, and in the Senate that means a return to regular order. Later this week, the House plans to send the Senate a bill to address the debt limit in a timely manner. Once we get it, the Senate should quickly respond. If the Senate version is different than the one the House sends over, send it off to conference. That’s how things are supposed to work around here. We used to call it legislating.” [Senate floor, Jan. 22, 2013]
2. McConnell, again: “Why aren’t we trying to do something about reducing spending? We know we need to do it. When are we going to do it? We don’t need to use the deadlines. We could go through the regular order. Congress could pass bills. They could have conferences between the House and Senate.” [ABC, Jan. 6, 2013]
3. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN): “We have not had a budget in this body for 1,240 days.” [Senate floor, Sept. 20, 2012]
4. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX): “1,387 days since the United States Senate has passed a budget.” [Senate floor, Feb. 14, 2013]
5. Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN): “It has been 1,372 days since the United States Senate passed a budget.” [Senate floor, Jan. 30, 2013]
6. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA): “Let’s get back to the business of America. Let’s get a budget to the floor.” [Senate floor, Sept. 20, 2012]
7. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO): “These problems are big, but they are not necessarily that complicated. We just have to have the willpower to deal with them. This Congress has not done that. This Senate, more importantly, has not done that. The House has passed bills. The House has passed a budget.” [Senate floor, Sept. 20, 2012]
The reasons why the GOP doesn’t want to go to conference is clear: they don’t want to consider any compromise that may include new revenues (the Senate budget raised $975 billion) or that raises the debt ceiling, which will need to be upped before October at the latest. Previous deals to reduce the deficit have been comprised primarily of spending cuts, and any further deficit reduction would have to be 90 percent revenues to bring balance to the total package of reductions since President Obama took office.
As Brian Beutler explained, both new revenues and an early, clean debt limit increase are untenable to Republicans, who hold less popular political positions on both. So instead of going to the conference the GOP spent four years demanding, they’ve chosen to block it from forming.