Conrad delays budget markup … again
Following the apparent demise of the vaunted “Gang of Six” budget negotiations in the Senate, Democratic Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad said Thursday he still won’t be proposing a budget for “weeks.”
This time, Conrad says Democrats are waiting for the results of bipartisan negotiations led by Vice President Joe Biden held at the Blair House.
“We have decided to defer a budget mark-up because of the high-level bipartisan leadership negotiations that are currently underway,” Conrad said in a written statement, “The results of those negotiations may need to be included in a budget resolution that would be offered in the weeks ahead.”
But Republicans, having spent Thursday commemorating the 750 days since Democrats last passed a budget, say a budget delayed is a budget denied.
“First, Senate Democrats offered the excuse that they were waiting for the ‘Gang of Six.’ Now we are told they are waiting on the Biden talks. But there is no reason to believe the Biden talks will be more successful than the Gang of Six,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican and the highest ranking GOP senator on the Budget Committee.
“A budget is a vision, a plan for this nation’s future, and the American people have a right to know what that vision is,” Sessions said.
Senate insiders are dismissive of the chance the Blair House talks will result in a substantive agreement.
Michael Steel, a spokesman for Republican House Speaker John Boehner, said Thursday that besides the Blair House talks, there are no other active negotiations between the House, Senate and White House over raising the debt ceiling, a secondary issue now entangled in the content of Congress’s final budget.
The Treasury Department has said it can stave off potential financial consequences of a failure to raise the debt ceiling until Aug. 2.
Conrad’s new delay comes days after Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn left the “Gang of Six.”
In a Washington Post op-ed, Coburn said the Senate should debate the issues on the Senate floor, not in secret meetings. However, Coburn had only just ceased his participation in the “Gang of Six” which has held highly secretive meetings for months.