In an interview with ThinkProgress on Tuesday, Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) blasted the pattern of manufactured legislative crises that’s prevailed in Congress since 2011.
Murray, who was at Center for American Progress to give a speech on early childhood education, argued that Republican obstructionism has prevented the government from effectively planning for America’s future. The House and Senate have each passed budgets, but barely three months from the beginning of fiscal year 2014, the budget process is stalled. “So far the Republicans have refused to go to conference,” Murray said. “They want to wait until the next crisis, which is exactly my point: We should not be governing by crisis. We should be setting our goals as a country and moving forward.”
Indeed, Senate Republicans are explicit about their efforts to keep the politics of crisis alive. In floor speeches explaining their refusal to name representatives in the legislative conference where House and Senate spending ideas will ultimately have to be reconciled, leading GOP Senators like Marco Rubio (FL), Rand Paul (KY), and Ted Cruz (TX) have insisted that the budget conferees be blocked from addressing the debt ceiling in the budget legislation. The debt ceiling has been the party’s primary means of inflicting a crisis mentality on what Murray said should be deliberate, forward-looking budget allocation decisions.
The conservative blockade of a budget conference may be losing support from mainline Republican senators. Sens. John McCain (AZ) and Susan Collins (ME) have publicly derided the scheme, and during an Appropriations Committee hearing last week, five of the committee’s 14 Republicans voted with Democrats to strip the crisis-inducing preconditions from the budget conference process.
Watch ThinkProgress’ interview with Sen. Murray for more on the budget and her call for everyone to get on board with universal preschool: