Senate Dems Promise First Budget in 4 Years
Policy + Politics

Senate Dems Promise First Budget in 4 Years

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The Senate Budget Committee will draft a budget blueprint this year, chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) announced Wednesday, the initial step toward the first adoption of a Senate budget in four years.

Murray’s announcement follows a similar pledge by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) over the weekend. But Murray’s statement is more significant, since this month she assumed the chairmanship of the key committee responsible for moving the spending plan to the floor.

It also comes as the Republican-led House plans to vote Wednesday on a bill that would suspend the nation’s borrowing limit into May — but also impose a requirement that both chambers of Congress pass a budget by April 15 or have their pay docked.

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Although Republicans are likely to credit their insistence on the “No Budget, No Pay” rule for the Senate panel’s decision, Murray insisted that her plan to write a budget this year has been long in the works.

“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,” she said.

Murray promised a budget that would pursue a “balanced approach” that protects programs for the middle class. That likely means her committee’s proposal will include higher tax revenues, likely to strongly clash with a House budget to be proposed by its budget committee chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Ryan has promised House conservatives a budget that will balance within the next decade and will require cuts far deeper even than the budgets — already slammed by Democrats for their sharp spending and tax cuts-- that he has proposed for the last two years, which each took nearly 30 years to come to balance.

“Democrats are eager to contrast our pro-growth, pro-middle class budget priorities with the House Republicans’ 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,” Murray said. “We know that when our priorities are laid out next to Republicans’, the public stands with us.”

The vast differences between the two budgets will make it harder to achieve a long-stated Republican goal to return Congress to its “regular order,” in which each chamber adopts a budget resolution, which are then negotiated in a joint conference committee.

This piece originally appeared in The Washington Post.