Politics
              Having labeled it "Debt on Arrival," Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., the Senate Budget Committee

White House derides GOP request for budget debate

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

White House spokesman Jay Carney on Thursday derided renewed GOP requests for the Democrat-run Senate to draft and debate a budget bill.

The requests “aren’t serious,” Carney told reporters at the White House press conference Dec. 6.

The dismissal reflects the Democrats’ desire to force House Republicans to negotiate a budget fix with President Barack Obama, rather than with the fragmented Democratic caucus in the Senate.

That centralized process would be contrary to the budget process outlined in the Constitution, but it would protect Senate Democrats from having to participate in unpopular floor votes and help the president use the media and cooperative businesses to increase pressure on GOP legislators.

The Democrats’ strategy “is to be meeting in secret and then plop down on the floor of the Senate in the last hour with some sort of coerced agreement,” Sen. Jeff Sessions, the leading Republican on the Senate budget committee, said Dec. 6.

GOP leaders have pushed for Obama to submit a budget for review by the Senate and the House. (RELATED: House speaker recruits 2011 Obama for fiscal-cliff talks)

“If the president doesn’t agree with our proposals and our outline, I think he has an obligation to send one [budget proposal] to Congress — one that can pass both houses of Congress,” Speaker of the House John Boehner said Dec. 5.

The Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, has also pushed the Democratic Senate leader, Harry Reid, to draft, debate and pass a budget fix for the so-called fiscal cliff.

The budget committee has been sidelined since 2009, because Reid has prevented any budget debate in the Senate. Instead, Reid has used closed-door, last-minute deals between House, White House and Senate leaders to complete annual federal budgets.

That strategy has helped Reid keep the Democratic majority in the Senate, because it shields Democrats from having to publicly support unpopular spending during floor votes.